(born 1860, The Azores;
died 1916, Amador County, Calif.)

Priscilla Hazelwood

In the little trellised grave
beneath three feet of snow
she burns in disintegrating DNA,
reeking of High Mass and myrrh.
She receives me from sacred earth
Lying on a bed of gold nuggets
and soaking in Madeira
one or two purple teeth.

She tells me she has no sins
except for ones endured and not enjoyed.
She tells me she will stay here forever,
her arms crossed
her face to the sky
with no desire to be absolved.

She tells she will not be sorry
in her grand monument
with the faded marker
that amnesia has claimed
and the grill that slants with the weight of snow
and bows under a new heaven.

She will stay here,
at home in her new land
well rested and sterile in death,
relieved of infants and all the sacraments.
Baptism began her life
but ended it mortally.
Except for this resting place
nothing about her life was considered holy.

I honor her on this pilgrimage
to this place, where her genes
end their prolificacy,
and gold and dirt cover her without shame.