COINS OF LIGHT Abyss & Bridge Renée Gregorio Dawn and dusk exist simultaneously in a village called Acteál where a white flag with thick blue letters spells PAZ, where a monument erected at the village entrance is named the pillar of shame. María invites us into the church, a thick-planked wooden hut with a roof of tin, to tell us her story. She welcomes us into the humble building, her face’s brightness cut off prematurely, like a fruit beaten from its place on a tree before it ripens. Forty-five of her people were murdered here by the paramilitary— parents, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts among the massacred. Soy soltera; I am alone, she says, as her eyes become enlarged, wet. She points to the bullet holes in the tin roof, to the virgin in her glass box on the altar whose body is still slumped over. Sunlight blasts through each hole, hitting the chest of the fallen virgin with a circle of golden light. As María’s voice shakes, every hole elicits a coin of light that lands on the dirt floor, circles of light that mark each shot heard that day nearly ten years ago. And they were only praying there. ©2021 Renée Gregorio