Igreja do Bonfim

Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Quarto dos Milagres

Walking the hill of Igreja do Bonfim…

I stand in the open-air square, surrounded by the beat of the benim bau.

The ocean, the palm trees, the sunlight, the view of Bahia… city of rolling hills.

The pobre tie a white ribbon around my wrist, protecting me, granting me a wish…

I ascended the stairs to the Igreja, supplicating myself; I kiss the entrance stone,

worn thin, by the many who have trod upon it… for over four hundred years.

Kneeling upon cold soap stone floors, soothing in this hot tropical heat.

I pray in Oxala’s house, windows wide open, air from the sea, light from the sun!

In this splendor, I make my way to the room of miracles… Quarto dos Milagres!

Like some strange, human, butcher shop, wax limbs, arms, surround me,

legs, heads, suspended from the ceiling. On the walls… crutches, glass eyes, silver livers,

kidneys, penises and vulvas, photos of the ill, the injured, paintings of ship wreaks, fires

accidents, thousands of relics left by the faithful, all seeking Oxala’s divine intervention!

All of this… boils on the senses, everything we have assumed goes…limp, white.

Then there is the moonlight… incense burns, candles are lit, flowers floating, a small

statue of Iemanja tied in ribbons sinks into the sea… offerings to Iemanja…the mother…

then… there is just the sound of Imeanja… her surf rising and falling…

her waves… which… like her hair let down…. tosses to and fro…

as she accepts our gifts, into the tropical blue… of the mother’s… womb!


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