Island of the Three Marias eText - eText

Text of the Poem

The pale nuns of St. Joseph are here
in groups, on the island of the just
arrived from having been somewhere else
and will be leaving soon without scars.

There are really four islands here     5
but the others are simply ignored.
No one has thought to ask why,
not Faustino, his wife, the children
the others, or even these white nuns
not in a Christian place, prison islands     10
inherited from the lepers who decomposed.
On this particular island the family makes
a living, and this is their punishment.
A burden placed in the hands of Faustino
the poor man who kills.     15

This place is the physical moment
for which the nuns are Easter lilies.
White is the frayed habits of the young
women who will not be women here.

He is too young, never married     20
who feels the two pains:
north, he could have no woman,
here he could, and had none.
He erased the laughing, his own
laughing that echoed—he said came—      25
from the mouths of those around him
with the needle in his leg
sometimes even though his pants
when he felt that way he felt,
crying pain he called wife,     30
Because of his soft noises then
he sometimes was loaned Mrs. Marez.
Faustino let him, thank you Faustino,
and when she left, whore! to Mrs. Marez.
He knew the truth which was dreaming     35
to leave this place to do again
what made his father proud
who, carefully, had shown him now.

White is the coldest color handed down
from old to new like one photograph,     40
like the story of the child martyrs
or the stale candies said to be blessed.

The man in the suit did not care.
His wife who did not come here
suffered from the embarrassment     45
of marriage with the one
too formal for this frivolous place
because he could be nothing else,
too important to have liked his name,
to have liked the boys     50
who were everywhere smiling at him.
Fresco Peach, the name he invented.
It reminded him of something
American western, Frisco Pete,
something tough but not quite     55
and that is better. He stayed inside
so no one would laugh here, and never
told his name to a woman.
A man is ugly, he says to himself,
a man then suddenly stops running.     60