Fiction Friday: Poetry Based on the Book

The idea of living in a home for unwed mothers,
of passing one’s child off as their sibling,
or that having a baby out of wedlock
would hurt a woman’s chances of marriage
was so foreign to me,
reminding me not of another place
but another time.
Living the Mormon life was like living in the Fifties,
or how I imagined living in the Fifties was.
Yes, they were a peculiar people,
who wore the cloak of victimhood
like a medal of honor.
They had been persecuted,
just as Jesus had.
Joseph Smith had been jailed,
just as Jesus had.
And they called themselves saints,
even as Jesus had been the saintliest of all.

In the Mormon Church,
one was born without sin,
but in the Catholic Church,
every child was born in sin—
passed down from the mother
like some debilitating disease,
thus, the necessity for infant baptism.
But what of those unborn
who could not be sprinkled with holy water—
who had thrashed around in amniotic fluid?
Did they atone for their original sin
with their life—
or just their chance at it?
I didn’t know it then,
but I would come to know God’s infinite grace
for those who had sinned
& those who had been sinned against,
as I was the latter,
who then became the former.

The Schafer home was a Mormon version of the Cleavers.
Pictures of Jesus & the various temples around the world
hung in leather frames on the wall,
giving them the importance of a museum painting or an ancestral portrait.
The Saints may not have worn Jesus’s corpse around their necks like the Catholics
or covered their cars with Bible quotes like the Deep South Protestants,
but their houses were a shrine to the Mormon Jesus,
to Joseph Smith,
& to everything that told anyone who entered
that they were a latter-day saint
in this new dispensation.

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.

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