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Art by: Luis Torruella

Los Tres Reyes Magos

They’d seen it all,

these three, jewels, lands,

musicians, the warmth of great hall fires

and women, yet just like all

tribal kings, and all men,

there was a restless

craving for more.

That is probably why

each had left home, heads up,

reading one peculiar star

in their sky seeming repositioned,

very strange indeed.

Each of these three men

felt that the other two,

little more than wealthy acquaintances,

would also follow up on the sky’s news.

And so it was, each of them

headed toward

this bolder, curiously focused, star.

They had the sense they would not be disappointed

in the end. Even if the adventure turned out to be

nothing at all, there was that pleasure of breaking the

routine, of crystalline brisk weather, and a change of pace.

Sometimes everything at home felt excessive, stagnant.

Each of them thought this, but of course none expressed it;

words have a way of becoming public.

It was a journey, a bit colder and longer than they anticipated,

their thoughts like jostling baggage: is this worth it? what’s the point?

Later, tinged and shadowed with ennui, that return,

wouldn’t everything have lost its first enticing glow?

Though the camels walked with their bumpy,

long pace, traveling still seemed tedious,

night and day and night and day.

Night, day, night, day.

Looking up to the light,

squinting forward.



Their triangular arrival was more or less simultaneous,

one in the night, two at dawn, following that same light.

They made camp nearby one another,

then met quite formally and discussed the star.


overly brilliant,

diminishing the rest by far,

by far.

Hardly changing its intensity.


That night they left their camp on foot,

the three of them,

with staffs and warm handsome robes,

together, under a sea of light,

under tumbling waves of brilliance,

passing ragtag shepherds and stray sheep.

On the outskirts of the village, they ignored beggars

mewing; they passed a rotting barn missing one wall,

but turned around,

all three, returning.

The star’s embers burned there,

warming a newborn.

The child’s mother lifted her head,

acknowledged them

in elegant silence.

The father did not glance up while

wrapping his shawl around the mother,

tucking the soft overflow

around their naked infant.

Something, everything, they would

never even want to attempt explaining.

They left the manger before dawn,

when the stars usually fade.

At first their camels balked, paused, lurched,

but finally swaggered on.

A stunning sense of quiet

submerged them,

a calm as


as their intuition.

Requiem for a Puerto Rican Husband

Long before our galaxy

there was our night,

its spark,

its smolder,

its everlasting fire,

ours, all yours, all mine.

Felt words, never spoken,

on our lips: a trinity of

kisses spoke instead.

Over us, the burn of Caribbean

molten light.

Stars plunged, billowed in the

brook’s reflection, then folded in

cassocked sleeves of

brook-bank trees.

In their arms we found a nest.

Unmoored yet unafraid.

Long before the sound of rain

that night, you took up

residence in this

small sweet breast;

it seems we’d known our steps

along this path long before we met.

Such a cappella wild fires

would never be contained,

but spread from our conflagration

to worlds of blaze.


My grandmother’s mother

lived in a round house,

the smallest of towers,

hugged by vines,

accessed by a bridge,

a moated place.

Her picture was once snapped

at the threshold of the wee house

but then erased by a cousin who

reported how the girl who was mostly so

sunny appeared vexed.

Vexed bests the murky shadow

that I now trace with two twilight

fingers, wondering, questioning in

my preface to rambling,


Irish prayer.

I know so little about her, yet

have heard some lovely things.

She cherished books,

and so do I.

She guards a story,

woven, unraveled and rewoven.

She also loved walking everywhere,

long legged, dreamy paces,

mostly to the library,

two miles of journey

up the road, or down

into town, then heading back.

Oh, she relished her cast of village cronies

as much as her galleries of book friends.

I close my eyes.

I envision her alongside the coulee,

a rough and weedy path.

I bear her name, she mine.

And from what I see, our gestures,

our habits are akin, even resonant.

She looked up to her father, a master gardener of

Blackwater valley, a stone’s throw from Mallow,

County Cork. He rose to groundskeeper at

Longueville House, grand place

for a gardener. He nurtured the

seeds, the garden soil, the flowering

trees; the property’s streamlets, the trout;

he tilled, he harvested. He inspired

his daughter’s garden, and in time

my grandmother’s garden,

talked of my mother’s,

and now mine: word-blooms,

shipwrecked alphabets

at sea,

some afloat, others clinging to the coral.

I decide to ask this Ellen—

she who safeguards my name

and I hers—to help me rescue

generations of erasures.

The wee house of grand Longueville

stands still, tall, thin, empty,

nearly choked

with muted vines,

while gardens and streams nearby,

part hers, part mine, thrive

in conversation.

Mary Ellen O’Callahan

of county Cork,

I’ll meet you halfway:

tell me one story, bequeath me

one bright skein

and I’ll reweave the rest.

I’ll cross the moat,

ten planks of bridge,

then brave this threshold

with its curious shadows,

its erasures.

I bring fresh light.

Light for your scones and tea,

light for your books,

light for your pen--

no, better said, our pens.


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