Excerpt from “My 12-12-12”

A garden surrounds the memorial to Celia Sánchez in Cuba
A garden surrounds the memorial to Celia Sánchez in Cuba. Photo: Clara Sanchiz/Flickr

But there we were
a small contingent
waiting for Her.
A nun showed up first,
of course,
this being hundreds of years
I liked her though; she led us
in song.
And soon, sure enough,
She appeared.
Brown, slender,
somber and very young,
maybe still languid
from interrupted sleep,
this year’s incarnation
of La Virgen de Guadalupe
shivering a bit
in the morning chill
she wrapped her green mantle
that tended to slip
more securely over her
loving head. With the help
of many hands,
her neighbors
and friends,
she climbed into the back
of the waiting
pickup truck.
I could have started weeping
right there. But no, I held on.
Though happiness and love welled up
behind my eyelids.
They have survived, I thought.

Copyright © 2018 by Alice Walker. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books.

Read an interview with Alice Walker from this same issue.