THE CHILEAN SKELETON
March Prompt #10
There was nothing to do but baptize it—
God forgive me—that tiny dead thing.
It was still warm, still damp with its mother’s
blood. They were afraid to wash it,
she said, afraid the water would kill it
before they could get it here, to save
its soul. The least they could do, they said.
She kept crossing herself, the grandmother
who brought it to the church. She kept
crying, afraid the girl had sinned, afraid
she herself had sinned. I did what I could.
I blessed her. I lighted candles for the girl.
I washed the little thing in clean water,
sealed it with the cross, wrapped it
in a linen cloth. I offered to bury it,
but the grandmother said they’d see to that.
It’s what women do, she said.