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Friday, October 29, 2021


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

Eddie Canales, director of South Texas Human Rights Center. Photograph: Gabriela Campos via The Guardian.

for john meza and eduardo canales

how many graves received them 
that is 
what was left of their bodies… 
for two days 
you will sift the soil 
with your hands and small trowels  
letting the earth 
fall away 
from the whiteness of bone 
i cannot fathom how you . . . 
(my heart aches with this almost thought) 
how will you touch the small remnants of lives 
and still breathe… 
only by kneeling 

Author’s Note: John Meza is one of the volunteers working with Eddie Conales, director of the South Texas Human Rights Center. With members of the Texas State University Forensic Pathology Department, they exhume bodies in graves in San Ygnacio, Texas to help identify missing migrants.

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.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”