The Virgin of Potosi

by Aidan Andrew Dun

pot 6

In the white cathedrals
of the old city
there is the woman
of the graven face.

Her life-expectancy
is only thirty-five
but she is grandmother
to her contemporaries.

Her skirt is a worm-eaten
beneath which men
worship Satan with dynamite.

She has rolled away
the stone so many time
her bones stick out
through her thin brown hands.

Her tears leak down from
the shaft-top constantly
each drop is almost
ninety-percent proof.

The son she has borne
is humpbacked, broken
his eyes are bandaged
after three months in hell.

She has very often
seen his betrayal
forty silver dollars
have sold him repeatedly.

But still she gives birth
in a hand-miner’s cabin
llamas and guinea-pigs
see these nativities.

How will she find a way
through the diggings

Her only help is
a lamp-strap tightened
to hold a single eye
firmly in place.