Death in a Foreigner's Tongue

Credits: first published in Ice Lolly Review 
Content warnings: mentions of death 

I. Él sana a los que tienen el corazón roto y venda sus heridas 

(Psalm 147: 3) 

Their locutions flit over my head, like a murder of crows 

fleeing a foggy sunrise in the east. Mother told me to smile 

and nod, to force puddles of sunlight into my gingerbread eyes. Monochrome people hover on tiled floors, fingers fumbling against pale wrists. I study the way 

their fingernails catch on dull rings, handed to them by the papaya brushed remnants of their ancestors. I wonder if they were baptized in the murky water 

of chipped bathtubs. Father raised me to be a good Roman Catholic, to hold hands with the boy that smelled like gasoline during Communion, to hold back 

bile as I kissed him during the wedding. The altar’s light dips into concave chests, nestling against floral perfume. I peer at the wilted flowers laying against stiff walls 

asters, bluebells, and carnations-
in a deadened glory that clings to life like ticks burrowed in a mangy dog.

II. Mi carne y mi corazón pueden desfallecer, pero Dios es la fuerza de mi corazón y mi porción para siempre. 

(Psalm 73:26) 

Mascara smudges develop into abstract paintings on tear-stained cheeks, birthinga child to waltz across anguish-stricken skin. She leaps from 

freckle to freckle, wobbling on tippy-toes painted with matte polish. I 

swipe my thumb across her face, watching her dissipate beneath my 

fingertip. Caskets of walnut wood 

conjugate in a silent vigil. Within my mind’s eye, I can clearly 

picture the dead conversing with each other in hushed whispers. “Did 

you believe their lies too?,” the elders would ask. Undecayed

jaws sighed, “Yes, they told the same stories.” Phantom 

hands caressed my jaw, gliding beneath and tilting 

it upwards and towards firmaments of an unforgiving and 

disquieting god. Oh, how I covet to join Him. 

III. Jesús le dijo: “Yo soy la resurrección y la vida." 

(John 11:25-26) 

Hearts of sanguine blood pound against ribs; pomegranate veins strain against sweaty palms as they shove roses against brass handles. The 

clicking of heels decrescendos and crescendos as they deposit their flowers and scurry back. One steps, two steps, three steps, 

I am pulled forward by the roots of my hair. I stand before him and his stale air. Should I feel remorse? Should I pray for his day of heavenly 

resurrection? Reluctant hymns drip from chapped 

lips, the same lips that so greedily drank prayers from their mother’s teat. 

I am an intruder within 

these people, an imposter coated in vermillion lipstick. I kiss the top of his 

forehead, dusting brunette hair away from his pasty, rubbery skin. Hestill smells like gasoline. 

Isabella Melians (she/her) is a sophomore attending school in south Florida. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fever Dreams, NonBinary Review, the B’K, and Southchild Lit. You can find her pieces worldwide, including in India, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. She is also a poetry editor with Outlander Zine and Kalopsia Literary. Insta: @isabellam_04.