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Ave Maria

Whom parents sold among Roman soldiers
Who limps on her cane between their thighs
Blessed among women, baskets of dried fruit
On her arm, dates and apricots

This apparition of the desert solstice
Broken mirage slumped on a cane
Her feet plastic bags
Shark-tooth thorns for her hair

Younger still than her son than
Christ what did they do to you
At the border? Gratia plena:
Drowned skin turns blue

Ave Maria
Theotokē Parthenē

A spinning top played
Beneath our fists

Pray for us sinners now
At the time of your death
Amid our needlepoint roses
And tissue-paper breasts

Kekairetomene Maria
Theotokē Parthenē

Child Prostitute of the Crooked Nose
Her sun-bleached dress, her bloodstained pantyhose

J.L. Wall teaches at the University of Michigan, where he still thinks of himself as living in self-imposed exile from Kentucky.