Hoping for succor, promises pinned to purple velvet. Arms, hands,
legs, and backs dangle from ribbon, unblinking eyes tied to statues,
a show and tell for saints and God.
Candles smoulder. Candles turned upside down until what was lost
is found, wagers made with the Paduan, pleas to restore tranquility,
if not possessions mislaid or love stolen.
Faithless wander through shadows as tourists, but see these flagels
studded with cactus spine. Believers crawl here to kiss sainted feet,
leave bits of knees and hands behind.
Blood sacrifice. Prismatic eyes. Body of terra cotta, breath of dust.
Iniquitous night inhabits the sky. Demon mouths filled by succulence
of pearls. An owl signifies either wisdom or death.
A blue glass eye shields from evil intent. They bathe in blessed mud
said to heal the feeble and lame. Crutches at the door, proof of miracles.
Piñon smoke. Scent of juniper, palo santo, copal.
Remove these stones from my breast, someone prays. Illuminate
the obsidian dagger within my chest. Remove my fear of orbits,
this terror of the swing of pendulums,
the moon’s unceasing tides. Deliver me of the particularities of suns,
the peculiar pull of a pellucid moon clotted inside my throat. Receive
little miracles I have left in your painted hands.
Donna Snyder was recently invited to be a contributor to the El Paso News. She founded the Tumblewords Project in 1995 and continues to organize its free weekly workshops and other literary events in the borderlands around El Paso, Texas.
Snyder formerly worked as an activist attorney representing indigenous people, people with disabilities, and immigrant workers, and also prosecuted misdemeanor environmental crimes and fraud, beginning her practice of law in Dinétah, formerly known as Navajo Indian Country. In her 30s, Snyder began writing both prose and poetry and developing a reputation throughout New Mexico as a writer and performer of spoken word. She served on the statewide board of a New Mexico reproductive rights advocacy group and received training at a national level on organizing. At this time she began combining political advocacy with cultural organizing.
Snyder’s legal practice included winning a class action on behalf of disabled indigenous children against two departments of the United States government, and in other litigation against the federal government she travelled many places for investigations, advocacy, depositions, and to lobby on Capitol Hill in D.C. for legislation that was enacted into law. Another notable case involved winning a federal consent decree in a case representing a group of campesinas and campesinos, in a case of first impression in the nation. That case was widely reported throughout Mexico, was noted in USA Today, and was extensively covered across New Mexico and West Texas. Snyder was awarded or nominated for prizes for her advocacy and activism on behalf of people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and drug addiction, as well as for her work on behalf of immigrant workers and indigenous people. In 2012, the Mexican American Bar Association named her outstanding El Paso lawyer for the year.
Snyder also served in various literary capacities over the years. She was an editor for poetry and art for Return to Mago. For Unlikely Books, she was fiction editor of an international, underground anthology, Unlikely Stories of the Third Kind, and edited I Can Sing Fire, a chapbook by Anne Lombardo Ardolino. Snyder edited the poetry page for the El Paso Bar Journal, focusing on writing by local lawyers and judges, and also worked as Assistant Editor. She volunteered as Poetry Curator for Newspaper Tree, a political periodical, publishing poets from all over the United States.
Snyder’s own poetry and book reviews began to be published widely in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Three different small presses published collections of her poetry, Virgogray Press (Austin), Chimbarazu Press (New York City), and NeoPoiesis Press (Vancouver Island, British Columbia). Snyder reports that her books are owned in India, Australia, Mexico, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, France, Germany, and across the USA and Canada. She will be providing poetry and non-fiction on an occasional basis to the El Paso News.