Requiem Mass for the Yuma Fourteen

Requiem Mass for the Yuma Fourteen

by Rebecca Foust

After The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea

 

Beyond the border they could smell the rain.

It smelled like freedom. Freedom and home.

The desert composes its requiem.

 

The oldest was sixty, his grandson thirteen.

One wore new jeans, one carried a comb.

Beyond the border they could smell the rain.

 

They got lost; then, they lost their water. The sun

was a furnace blast. Dust. Thirst. Delirium,

the desert composing its requiem.

 

Vampire air. Heat that bakes flesh off bone.

Hands fretworked with spines, mouths crammed

quartz, they smelled the rain.

 

The boy dreamt saguaro was bread and the stones

were stars. He heard tall, cool-winged seraphim,

rehearsing a Requiem Aeternam.

 

He made a neat stack of his clothes, and at dawn

he lay down. He burst like a ripe sunset, a plum.

Beyond the border, you can smell the rain.

The desert composes its requiem.

 

 

First published in Zyzzyva, Fall 2013. Reprinted in Nostos, vol. 1 (Longship Press 2017)

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