Juniper Prayer Beads

Inhale their smell, relax, remember me 
said my friend pushing the prayer beads into my hand
Lifting them to my nose is a moment’s journey
How generous the seed of the juniper tree
Like red wine dried to grains
bright and full-bodied from within
Pouring through my fingers 
they leave behind their lovely scent 
This is the fragrance of the ancient church
incense trailing from a censer
As I stroke the beads two Jesuit priests appear 
Glass vase with rose buds, Mother Mary’s altar
angel trinkets, then blood so much blood
because priests are killed with care in my country
The murderer would say “it was an immoral promise that he spread”
He wasn’t yet eighteen
while I age years in a single day
How hard the seed of the juniper tree
Like spilled blood dried to grains
lukewarm gutter lukewarm gutter 
pouring through my fingers
Eyes dimming I stagger more and more 
Still they make you walk 
always towards a place you will never reach
a destination without respite
As for after well there is no after
after is a graveless death
in the back of a truck or a passenger boat
stacked like goods piled on top of other goods
like migrants
dying the oldest of deaths as if it were a new life 
As for after well there is no after
After is a statistic after is breaking news
Murder at the hands of the state prayer beads can’t contain