You should never have had to be patron saints of violence,
your names, spoken by us once a year,
your lives, remembered by us only on the occasion of solemnity.
We gather on this day and
we speak each of your names
like the Stations of the Cross, 14 in total.
We trace the syllables of your names
but how many of us remember the cartographies of your lives?
Do we even remember to look at the photographs?
Your gazes transfix us; happy, smiling, as if you held your breaths only for a moment.
Perhaps we are afraid to look you in the eyes.
We have built memorials to you,
clumsy attempts to reconstitute the flesh that your family, friends, lovers
could once reach out to touch.
We have filled them with sharp, rough edges,
constructed from glaring steel;
made of flat, unyielding stone,
shaped as coffin-like benches:
for that which is unbearable.
But oh, you had such softness
in the lilts of your voices
the curves of your faces
the smooth shapes of your dreams.