Capela da Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos
by Marina Carreira
Here on my side of the ocean, the mist
is a mantle of woolen smoke around the cliff
so many women have jumped from. I walk
steadily to the old chapel so many fisherwomen
have prayed in for the return of their husbands,
but I’m not here to pray. I stand and bear witness
to the crumbling blue and white tiles that form
the Blessed Mother of the Afflicted, the saint
of women plagued by fear and famine, phantasms
of both the mind and the body. No one knows I’m here
to plead for my mind back, for the return of the brain
that belonged to a woman who feared nothing.
To the kneeling woman on my left and the two
to my right, I am nothing more than an overwhelmed
tourist who forgot her camera but doesn’t care.
Rain is coming, and that is one less thing to get wet.
Later, on your side of the ocean, you tell me
about the sweltering heat of mid-afternoon in Newark:
It’s murder out here, even the sparrows stick
to the bark of the cherry blossoms to stay cool.
And we all know how they love to fly, so imagine.
Requiem for the Heart
Tiny purple gris-gris bags,
swimming in circles in my chicken soup.
I pick them out
and lay them lifeless
on the side of my plate.
The 4×4 cut-out
cards I exchanged with only girls
in my 5th grade class on Valentine’s day
in my mother’s unfinished basement.
That pink birthmark,
a wet kiss on your lower back
hip. Your father has the very same
one he covers up every day
Hanging off the gold necklace
he gave me the Christmas after
we lost our virginities,
in it, our picture:
eighteen, unwounded, wide-smiling.
What my grandmother says
men are good at
eating. Easy like oranges,
their teeth slowly separating
En Route to Montreal, on Our Anniversary
Day breaks slowly over the Catskills,
tree trunks scissoring the light.
White and wide as whale teeth,
lines divide us
from other cars on the Thruway.
I’m some spare part
of rib – rheumy-eyed, documenting
all my grandmother would call madness.
- 5:36 pm
We stop at Betty Beaver’s Diner
in Lewis. The heavy-lidded waitress serves us
bread and eggs as curry yellow
as the afternoon sun
breaking through the window’s grease.
Home feels four thousand miles away,
and it’s been nine lives since I overheard you
say Marriage is overrated.
Marina Carreira is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ. She holds a BA in English from Montclair State University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Marina is an adjunct professor of English at Essex County College and a correspondent for the Luso-Americano newspaper. She is curator and co-host of “Brick City Speaks”, a monthly reading series at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge in Newark, NJ. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology, and Paterson Literary Review.