#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

“Do no harm” & “to thine own self be true,”
was my David–
a man of many sensibilities–
but he would never worship that which he could not see.

I hadn’t realized how dead Mother had been
till I saw how alive the Church had made her.
They were as Lazarus,
raising up a new Laurie,
her old soul not made new
but replaced.

Beth & Gerald Foster had been like my fairy godparents,
their diner turning back into a pumpkin,
fertilized by silver bells & cockleshells.

Life pulled us forward now,
& our future began to steal from our past,
diminishing the memories I’d once held close.

In Sacrament, we took Him inside us,
in Sunday school, we learned about Him inside us,
but in Relief Society,
we separated ourselves from the one
we had become one with.

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#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Mother was like an onion–
her many layers gradually being peeled back–
causing the tears to come quicker.
Her history had not been known
but was still being discovered,
&, like the universe,
would never be all the way known.

Though we had never gone anywhere outside the U.S.,
I traveled through David’s lectures,
through the tastes & smells of unfamiliar foods,
the sounds of music, the sight of photos,
the touch of artifacts.
He didn’t take me around the world
but brought the world to me.

According to David,
God was either a figment of imagination
or an extraterrestrial with powers
more advanced than ours.

Caitlin was denim & lace,
I, satin & pearls,
but Mother was cut from a different cloth;
whatever it was had a high thread count.
Other women were nylon & polyester,
but she was like the finest Egyptian cotton,
her skin like the softest silk–
even the wool she pulled over my eyes
was vibrantly colored.

David believed Jesus was a great prophet,
that Jesus only believed He was God
because others had told Him so,
for hadn’t there been many Messiahs
before & since?
Perhaps Jesus had simply been better
at branding himself.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

He’d never read to me Mother Goose
or Dr. Seuss,
but the Dead Poets,
& the works of a particular student of his–
Marianne something–
who fancied herself a poetess.
We’d never seen puppets teaching shapes & colors
but musicals as bright as candy corn.

For our family tree was such that
if there were older generations left,
I could not see them through the leaves at the top—
where cobwebs had netted them together
through the shadows my mother had placed there.

The graven image of Moroni topped
Mormon temples like a wedding cake,
the interior of which were supposed to be like the
Celestial Kingdom of Heaven on Earth,
but my dream heaven was high on a mountaintop
where snowflakes fell in Spirograph-like creations,
or riding an elephant on a beach,
the sun at our backs,
or deep in the bayou under the Spanish moss
where the crawdads sang—
anywhere in nature,
where the words of the poets
were painted on the sky.

They all spoke on the Law of Chastity,
& you would think there was only one law to break
but to them,
breaking this law led to every other sin—
abortion, poverty, & eternal damnation.

The idea that God had once been
as we once were,
that He had been dust imbued
with the breath of life–
an inhabitant of another earth–
frightened me.
I wanted Him to have always been–
without beginning,
without end.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Children were like little Christs,
for every spirit child of God the Father
that was brought into the world
brought their parents
one little footstep closer to heaven.
It was one thing to accept the Mormon gospel
for oneself–
that was regular interest–
but to duplicate oneself through procreation–
that was compound interest.

Caitlin would’ve been fascinated by the seance–
she, who’d always wanted to witness an exorcism,
but this, this was religious fanaticism,
or what she would call crucifixation–
an obsession with Jesus & His gruesome death.

David never tended our gardens,
& so everything grew a bit wild—
like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Our careworn home showed signs of neglect,
but there was a regality about it
that said something about the owners—
like those who held onto the Old South
on crumbling plantations.

We had the newest television
but watched movies from 40 or more years ago.
David had the newest computer
but wrote most of his notes with a fountain pen
on an old desk.
We lived in the South
but on our walls were pictures of New England’s
covered bridges in the fall.
We were the essence of existing
beyond the constraints of time & space.

Caitlin was the dove,
& the rest of us were like crows,
feasting on each other.
All through school,
I’d avoided offers of friendship–
counting the hours
like I numbered the stars
till I would be home with David again.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I stood in awesome wonder as I beheld who I recognized as the Prophet Joseph as a boy, on the Hill Cumorah. He was conversing with an angel. I started to walk towards them. The angel looked my way, but the boy did not seem to hear me.

As I drew nearer, I saw that the apparition was not an angel but a goat. It was beyond this scene that I saw a path through a grove of trees, leading down into a dark abyss, & I knew that was from whence this creature had come.

I rushed to the boy, trying to tell him that this being was not of God but a demon, wanting to touch him, but unable to, screaming for him to see what I saw.

Ronald Reagan watched us enter the foyer, his eyes with that twinkle of merriment, almost as if he were laughing at us. David had always said Reagan had been such a charismatic President because of his acting ability, though many of his University colleagues had debated whether the Old Gipper had ever had any acting ability.

When Sister Schafer bragged that her husband was a direct descendant of Brigham Young,” David muttered, “Who isn’t?”

Brother Schafer had re-emerged, holding 2 large stones. They were the clearest rocks I had ever seen & looked almost like breast implants, so it was funny to see him balancing one in each hand.

Brother Schafer placed his palms on the stones, & his whole body was filled with light. He was like Brigham Young, his son, like Joseph Smith–everything was going in reverse chronological order.

It was strange, for I could still hear all around me, all that was going on in that room, the 2 worlds colliding—one of sight, in the past & one of sound, in the present.

The spell was broken as Brother Schafer ended what had turned out to be a séance of sorts, conjuring up visions of visions. Had I gone back in time, only to be unable to change the history that had been made before my eyes?

The lights came on, and with a shiver, I realized no one had seen what I had seen, for I had been alone there in the forest. The very people who believed in Joseph Smith’s teachings had brought him back from the dead, only for God (or had it been the devil tricking me?), to tell me that he had been mistaken, to show me that after all, he had been just a boy with an imagination out of this world.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

For Sister Schafer,
her son was the second coming
of Joseph Smith,
the prophet who was,
according to them,
second in line to Christ.
For it was Tony who rediscovered
the Urim & Thummim–
the seer stones the Prophet Joseph used
to translate the golden plates–
those plates that were taken back by the angel Moroni,
lest any archaeologist might discover them.
They were the Interpreters,
glowing in the dark like cat eyes,
even as Tony was a cat-eye–
a tool with hands
& a tool with a voice,
whose genes were being replicated
inside the womb of a woman
whose conception was far from immaculate.

They prayed with bowed heads,
folded arms,
& closed eyes–
as if they were getting ready to be assassinated.
Such was how they presented themselves to the Mormon God–
a God who became more mysterious
the more I was told of Him.

There were “Amens” all around,
“Pay Lay Ale” was uttered thrice,
& a minty mist imbued the air.
It made my breath cold,
for a vapor pass my lips–
as if a spirit was escaping
My dying body.
The dampness–
like the verdant earth after the rain,
& the chanting in tongues–
not a foreign language,
but something guttural,
made my pulse quicken,
yet I felt paralyzed.
The floor beneath me shifted,
like plate tectonics.
My world wasn’t turned upside down
but shaken,
&, like a baby,
I was never the same again.

David held my hand,
& I was transported.
My heart was not troubled,
& neither was it afraid.
From 4 walls to a woodland,
the ceiling opened up & disappeared,
& sunlight streamed through the treetops;
birds were singing sweetly in the breeze.
I was not beside myself
but outside myself,
& it was a good place to be.

Family Home Evening–
the Monday installment of the Mormon life–
consisted of prayer,
to open the lines of communication with God,
for it was not His job to initiate contact;
of singing,
to praise this God who gave us his First, Last, & Only;
of a talk or lesson,
to further His global agenda
of building temples & spreading the Book of Mormon;
& to go over family business & family schedules.
It was all about “the family”–
like some kind of Anglo Mafia.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

My mother was once like me
as I was now,
even as she was now
what she would always be,
& I would never be–
like the unspoken Goddess of Kolob.

She would never change her mind
about the Church,
for the Church had changed her.
It was not the figurative blood of Jesus
that put the scarlet in her cheeks,
but it was the psychological hold
that the Church had on my mother
that removed her scarlet letter
like an old tattoo.

As she drew closer to God,
she withdrew from us,
even as David & I grew closer than ever,
but a part of me still feared losing him
if he lost Mother completely.

Those Mormons were a patriotic sort–
red, white, & blue all over–
for their church had been born
& come of age
in the American pioneer days;
they had abandoned God’s higher law
of polygamy
to bow down
& kowtow
to the less-enlightened practice
of monogamy.

What separated the occult
from the Divine?
Was it a matter of whom was sought out–
the God of our mothers & forefathers
or our ancestors & friends gone by?