A Poem (and a Photograph)

Sultanim Mazar, a photograph by Lisa Ross


by Sherisse Alvarez

The curtain of night parts to reveal
the women that have gathered to pray.

Their cupped hands, the oil lamps burning.

Sand makes music for their saints.
Holy site, desert that understands
the meaning of impermanence.

Where tombs are made of stone, branch, cloth,
language. The simplest and most dangerous
of desires. They pray with their knees

in earth, sand blurring the face
of a colonizer in the landscape.

They are here to honor the dead. To bathe
in rivers, to mend their shrines, to chant.

With needle and thread, they make
an offering, they mark their wish.

Sherisse Alvarez is currently an MFA candidate in the Creative Nonfiction program at Hunter College. Her work has appeared in Palimpsest: Yale Literary and Arts Magazine; Daylight Magazine; Becoming: Young Ideas on Gender, Identity, and Sexuality; Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, and other publications. Her one-act plays have been produced at the Clark Studio Theater at Lincoln Center and the Blue Heron Theater in New York City. Sherisse has been a resident at the National Book Foundation and the Fine Arts Work Center. She can be reached at sherisse@sherissealvarez.com

Image: Unrevealed, site 3 (landscape) © 2010 by Lisa Ross. Lisa Ross is an artist based in New York. This image is from a body of work titled UNREVEALED made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, PRC over a 7 year period.
The work explores the landscape and its spiritual architecture of Sufi Saints, their tombs and the markers which surround them. You can view her work at lisaross.info

3 thoughts on “A Poem (and a Photograph)

  1. jmadlc55 February 1, 2010 / 7:20 am

    Thanks for stopping by!

  2. kyra February 1, 2010 / 10:38 am

    just gorgeous! i love her voice!!!

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