I saw Saint Mark in her room, my mother told me,
beside Bible verses, embroidered pillows,
a picture of Jesus holding her in his arms, all 89 pounds.
Miriam was 15, my mother began, before she melt into a coma,
when words still slithered up her throat,
down her tongue, and left that sugary feeling of E’s and A’s,
when her toes squirmed as if they were in disagreement,
the biggest struggling to resolve the conflict.
Miriam’s mother murmured their story,
a silhouette of the word faith, outlining her folded hands.
My father held his breath, and
Saint Matthew and Luke listened as well, quietly,
an unmistakable furrow of their brows.
She explained how her daughter’s words grew crunchy and flavorless,
how they tripped up her throat and limped out her mouth,
and sweet letters became mild.
She explained how the wind of her legs began to slow,
how every step left was like the ticking of the big hand,
and one minute was almost up.
But my mother told me that her eyes
remain unchanged, sharp,
like she keeps adjusting the focus on her camera.
Miriam’s eyes are not fragile; they are pens being clicked,
over and over.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”,
her mother said. Then it was silent.
Finally, my parents were told that Miriam’s words fell to the galaxy,
waiting to smash into ground, and simply evaporate,
but they remained in her brain, edging through to get to the lips.
Her steps became numbered and her legs became tired,
then rigid, stuck,
concealed beneath a mass of sheets and comforters.
After that was nothing,
a stillness which refused to free this girl,
lying tranquil on a bed.
The narrative completed, and 13 years explained.
Miriam must have wanted to wither
or crumble into the layered walls of her room.
But at the thought, St. Paul whispered something into Miriam’s ear,
and echoes of his melodious voice reverberated off the ceiling.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.”