Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

A priest in love with a mortal
could not be a good priest—
just as a missionary in love
could not be a good missionary.
Both were choices made by men,
who chose a Man over a woman,
& for those who said that God
was neither male nor female
had no answer to how anything but a man
could have fathered a child in a woman.

David was my lifeguard,
pulling me from the ocean of grief I had been floundering in
for being one of Brad’s sleeping apostles.
Perhaps Brad had gotten caught in a riptide
and hadn’t called for me
because he’d known I’d have come after him.
Perhaps he had saved my life
by not letting me try to save his.

Like a woman,
I didn’t know coordinates—
that which I could not see;
but I knew landmarks—
which I could.
Perhaps I had no sense of direction—
no sense of myself—
except in relation to my surroundings.
I hadn’t paid attention on the way to the beach—
just as I hadn’t paid attention most of my life
to what was happening around me
& to the people around me.
I had lived my life unaware & unafraid.

I often think about how different
our lives would have been
had I not been downstairs
at that moment—
closest to the door.
David would’ve defeated them
with some intellectual sparring
& sent them on their way;
Caitlin would’ve flirted with them,
scaring them away;
but with Mother,
I would never know.
Would she have been distracted
& told them, “Another time, perhaps,”
not meaning it,
or would she have done what I did?
Let them in out of careless curiosity?

David’s arms comforted rather than chastened,
& there was no rebuke in his voice,
only regret.
“I’ll take care of everything,” he said,
& I let him,
for he always had.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

 

Soundtrack on Repeat

Hippos

19 miles till Empty with my 27 teeth—
no pearly-whites of wisdom;
born tongue-tied with a wooden spoon in my mouth.
Sarah with an h (like Anne with an e),
middle name Lea, not Leah—
who would do that anyway?
Just brown hair, blond roots, & split-end decisions—
double major leaguer of my own destiny.
Livin’ above my means ‘cause I got no means—
drivin’ on an unglazed donut,
just livin’ this dream in the Redneck Riviera,
though I don’t know what kind of dream is being
a creative white peg in a corporate black hole,
comin’ home to more work—
Wheel of Fortune & Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Don’t you know that letter’s already been called,
& I already lost all my marbles.
If arts are liberal, is science conservative?
Slim Jims aren’t just gas station snacks,
& I’m no longer a Wag hag
but still get 2 earplugs for the price of 1.
If you’re a lackey & you know it,
clap your hands
& don’t be modest like the Mormons
with their fireproof underwear.
Wrote The Solar Express,
but no one cared.
Drink coffee out of rebellion
but have to pee first thing
then see “Live, Laugh, Love” stock art/wall filler
on shelves at Target which
gets a visceral reaction from me
like people who say fur babies
‘cause you don’t need no epidural
& alphabet tracing sheets.
Do it the hard way ‘cause that’s the only way I know.
Ablaut reduplication is not being redundant;
say wakey-wakey for left eye & right eye.
Concrete poetry I can draw chalk lines around
& walk all over like the rolled-up weapon
with the fake news called horoscopes
& maybe columnists.
Still driving on E . . . 

Sweet Little Nothings

Be someone you look up to chocolate

When her son was a baby,
she took time off to be with him,
missing the promotion.
When her son was 5
& going into kindergarten,
she went back to work
at a reduced rate,
for it was important
that she was there
every night
to read him a bedtime story.
When he was 12,
she won a 6-month writer’s residency
in New England,
but she couldn’t afford to bring him with her,
& she told herself that it was enough to know
that she had won,
for she could write anywhere with him
in the next room
or playing at her feet.
When he was 16,
she’d looked straight at him
& gave him the car keys—
not giving him to God as a priest
but to the world as a man.
When he was 18,
she looked up into those eyes
that were no longer questioning
but knowing,
& she saw herself reflected back in them.
And it was then that she saw herself
in him for the first time,
rather than the father who had gone before his;
she saw that she’d made something of the world
by making something of him.

A Light-Year of a Dark Mile

Shamrocke

When the world changed
from 6 degrees of separation
to 6 feet,
the longer this change
became a way of life,
the more that distance began to be
measured by time apart.
Children seemed to disappear
like caterpillars
into the cocoons of their homes,
their siblings their only friends;
but for the only child,
Mom & Dad
became their whole world,
other children,
a voice & a face on a screen.
FaceTiming with the grandparents,
whose hugs had become something dreamlike—
the spicy scent of Grandpa’s Clove gum
& wiry whiskers that felt like pine needles,
the intoxicating scent of Grandma’s Charly perfume
& powdery, rouged cheeks that left their mark—
began to fade into something indescribable.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Brad worshiped the Creator,
David, the Creation;
I was somewhere in between,
for I saw being a good steward of Creation
as a form of worship.
I could know Mother Nature
in a way
I wasn’t sure I’d ever know
God the Father.

The tide ebbed,
leaving behind a holographic surface
in the waning sunlight.
My love for this boy swelled
as the waves crashed to shore.
It was our last good-bye,
for with his message in the bottle,
he had gotten the last word.

The thrashing of the crashing foam—
like Mr. Sandman’s lullaby—
lulled my eyes closed,
for a part of me imagined
that being coated like a sugar cookie
amongst all this magical grit
was where the Sandman got his magic.
I let myself drift off into slumber
like a piece of driftwood,
feeling safe being near to the one
who was near to God.
I fell asleep for hours,
Brad,
for eternity.

The bottle washed ashore,
almost rejecting Brad’s message.
A small sheet of paper
that had been rolled up
fell into my hand
while I stood knee-deep on the sandbar.
Ever after, I would think of this note
as a dead sea scroll,
a sacred text,
& a series of words that would
apply to my life
for the rest of my life.

I prayed in my heart,
even as I called his name,
but just as the sting of death
was swallowed up in Christ,
my screams were drowned out
by the pounding surf
that licked my ankles
on this deserted beach,
& I felt as if I was swallowed up
in the panic that begat my grief.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Sweet Little Nothings

It's your call chocolate

She had grown up with Pat & Vanna—
witnessing the progression
of the turning of the letters
to the touching of the letters,
of Pat’s lousy jokes & receding hairline,
& the ushering in of the
lame-ass “crossword” category.
Through “The Wheel,”
she’d learned her alphabet,
then her spelling,
then the combinations of words
& the categorization of those combinations.
She’d learned to count in fifties & hundreds
before twos & fives
& that mispronouncing a word
could cost you dearly.
She’d seen snippets of every part of the world
& where they were located on the map,
so that she was curious enough to look them up
in Encyclopedia Brittanica.
She’d learned when to take chances
& when to play it safe.
When she became a contestant—
meeting these personalities
who’d lit up her living room
with their Fifties blandness—
it was like living her childhood dream
& connecting with a friend
that had grown up with her
without them even knowing it.
The money she won changed her life
but only because she used it
to change someone else’s.