Bulls with bells around their necks, large black bullsflipping over in dust, dancing with yards of yellow silk.
Her father carrying her through the gates of the arena,an easel strapped to his back, a warm churro in her small fist.
Bulls slowly turning red at the bite of each lance. People outsidethe arena, shouting, turning red under buckets of insincere blood,
to make a point, her father said. People inside cheering, wavingwhite handkerchiefs, hoping to be thrown a tail or a hoof.
After his death, the girl spent months trying to believe in ghosts,in something that smelled like her father: Old Spice, Budweiser,
linseed—she managed to muster a phantom father dragginghis old brushes and paint over canvas, an exact likeness
who stayed in nightclothes till dinner, smashed empty beer cans—But soon enough her mother sold the last painting [End Page 142]
and the spirit sped away, popping wheelieson a damaged motorcycle without saying so much as good-bye.
Slowly she forgot his voice and the shapeof his face until all that was left were the bulls.
The matador in the bull ring, real blood seeping from his stomach.A single memory to live by: her father telling her it was good to see
both a bull pocked with the spears of the picadores and a matador gored,the needle-sharp horn of the plowbeast piercing clean through.
Nothing to See Here
The girl takes a bus across townto the Pan de Vida and buysa rosary. On the return tripshe crimps the brown beads in her palmand pretends she is a Catholic.
She imagines herself on pilgrimage to Cologne,peering into the hearts of 11,000 virgins.
She wants to see the tsunamiof ribs, shoulder blades, and femurs—the riotof relics resting in the basilica. Prayto St. Ursula's martyred handmaids:
touch the skull caps of twenty virginssay ten Hail Marysand you get to start over— [End Page 143]
her body unspoiled, her bodynever pressed against damp dirtin a wide field, bluestem grass wavinga secret fortress around bare skin.
She imagines a priest feeding her apple strudel,wrapping her in red cloth.
She ponders the logistics of beheading 11,000 girls:How many Huns did it take? How much blood,how long?
Tana Jean Welch was born and raised in Fresno, California, but now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she is pursuing a doctorate in literature. Her poetry has appeared in the Southern Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Gettysburg Review.