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Monday, February 22, 2021


by Sister Lou Ella

Dianna Ortiz, an American Roman Catholic nun whose rape and torture in Guatemala in 1989 helped lead to the release of documents showing American involvement in human rights abuses in that country, died on Friday in hospice care in Washington. She was 62. —The New York Times, February 20, 2021. PHOTO: Sister Dianna Ortiz in 1996. After being raped and tortured in Guatemala, she helped focus attention on the 200,000 people who were killed or disappeared during that country’s 36-year civil war. Credit: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

           in memory of sr. dianna ortiz, osu
                         rape and torture victim

friday after ash wednesday
the death certificate read cancer
but i know better
the unspeakable terror
that tortured your flesh years ago
has finally had its way with you
then and then daily the Holy in your body
screamed why have you forsaken me
perhaps you are the saint of the struggle
that wrestling with the command to forgive
but the Holy will also have Its way
It too Unspeakable

Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and The New Verse News as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo.  She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)