“The Draft of a Messiah” by Raquel Reyes-Lopez

Raquel Reyes-Lopez


I’m not sure what sounds escape
when a false messiah sings. If lips
part gently, while tongue pushes
out noise that mimics semi-truck
collision, or if it’s a burst of two-
hundred hummingbirds fluttering
at the same time.

So when my mother asks for me
to sing to her, as blood runs down
her nose. I can’t. There’s not a note
etched onto my skin that reads off
a hymn of salvation.

In her delusions I am a messiah,
something supernatural that can fix
everything, and my human fragility
is muted. I cannot cut at lower back,
pull out, and beat my liver into hers.

My mother’s voice eventually cracks
after repeating over & over, “It hurts.
Everything hurts. Save me. Why won’t
you save me? Help me.

I sing out doctor, medicine, ambulance.
Words that sting. She realizes I am false
messiah, a draft of a prayer unanswered,
but somewhere in my eyes she sees a glint
of daughter lingering.

It’s enough for her to hang on, enough
for her to mouth out daughter over &
over. In tears I reply, “Mother, mother
stay with me,” while wiping her blood
away with my sleeves.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos


Raquel Reyes-Lopez: “Being a Los Angeles poet allows you to reflect on every aspect of diversity and identity in your life. It urges you to incorporate into your writing what you have lost and gained, origins, and family. I am first generation here. Los Angeles poets have brought everyone from different cultures and age groups together. There are no barriers that stop us from expressing ourselves to one another. I believe no walls should stop Los Angeles poets from writing the uncomfortable because we have an audience that constantly welcomes our truth.” (website)

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