saint of homeless shelters

imagine a whole room of us, braiding one another’s hair. imagine our hair, blackthick, imagine how it was braided together, by strand and by time. three girls brushing my hair at a wide dirty window, while six strangers smoke cigarettes in the garden below. at least half of them will not live. imagine us girls in the window looking down. how half of us will become our mothers. we eat a communal dinner, speak a communal prayer, sorrow spilling tang and blood water, catastrophe hands ripping wet bread and steeple prayers. dio, we say, are you here now? a church bell tolls, the summer light burns silent, doors shut, bodies writhe, and we think we are saved. imagine a whole house of women battered and bad, bodies crushed by ill and their children. waiting on god. count until forever and that is the sound I remember.

saint of hearth & home

outside of myself,        I am in the garden looking in.  I am rarely inside myself now. I am always missing everything, always else and elsewhere. I am always looking in. there, in the kitchen, we do the temporary dance. in which my mother, still so blonde, is whole.  in which we say goodnight and leave small lamps on to guide the way in darkness.  and mirrors, gold and gilded, hang over cheap soft chaises of love.  in which the ghosts of homeless shelters have been swallowed by the dark pit of hells I know by name. we have a home now, we sing. we have a home now. and the table, soft mahogany. and the three little windows,            looking out at black dogs panting in the summer rain.

            it was perfect and ominous. of course it had to end.  

the pit of addiction called us by name, the swelling belly of deadness at the door. on the balcony where       we had a home now, where we had a home now.

Lisa Marie Basile is the founding creative director of Luna Luna Magazine, and the author of several books of poetry, as well as two nonfiction ritual practice collections Light Magic for Dark Times and The Magical Writing Grimoire. She’s written for or been featured in The New York Times, The Atlas Review, Narratively, Catapult, Sabat Magazine, Best American Experimental Writing, Best American Poetry, Grimoire Magazine, and more. She’s an editor at the poetry site Little Infinite as well as the co-host of Astrolushes, a podcast that conversationally explores astrology, ritual, pop culture, and literature. She is also a chronic illness advocate, keeping columns at several chronic illness patient websites. She earned a Masters’s degree in Writing from The New School and studied literature and psychology as an undergraduate at Pace University. You can follow her at @lisamariebasile and @Ritual_Poetica.

Banner image by Olivia Cronk