In Clearwater, Florida, an oil stain

resembling the blessed Virgin

appears on a loan office window,

draws a crowd, moves them to tears, to prayer.

They build an altar, offer beads, fruit,

hundreds of thousands of handwritten pleas.

Comfort and healing for a five dollar

parking fee. Even the loan officers start to

believe she shrinks tumors, makes husbands

more faithful. My mother takes me to see it.

She does not say the word miracle,

but why else would we go?

Standing before the 30-foot apparition,

a swath of blues and purples, my mother

does not tell me what she asks for.

We leave nothing at the altar.

For eight years Mary endures, survives

a fire, monsoon rains, an acid attack, but

in the end she is beheaded

by three stones and a slingshot.

The ministry says God will forgive the vandals,

the glass will be replaced, worship must continue.

I think the stones were an answer.


Arielle Hebert holds an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod Journal, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Bombay Gin, among others. She was nominated for Best New Poets Anthology in 2017. She believes in ghosts and magic.