#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Elder missionaries
moved around like chess pieces.
Mother was the queen,
David the king,
Elder Roberts the knight,
& I, his pawn.

On canvas,
David & I belonged;
on paper,
David would belong to her.
Only through his art
would I stay forever young,
even as Mother grew grey.

My nudity wasn’t of the body,
but of the soul.
David painted what he knew,
rather than what he saw.

His canvas was Dorian Gray’s portrait,
he, Dorian.
Like Jesus, he took upon himself
sins not his own,
but whose origin was unspecified.

I was a marionette,
created by Mother,
controlled by David,
albeit with invisible strings—
a chimera,
with David,
the dominant,
overtaking me.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

The years fell away from my mother
when she was with the elders.
They gave her back something she’d never had,
or rather, the rest of us had diminished.

Our Sundays no longer belonged to Patrick—
to grieving the dead.
That first or last day of the week had become our Sabbath,
rejoicing in the one I thought of as The Undead.

As the 3 men entered in,
David at the head,
I couldn’t help but think of them
as the 3 Wise Men,
bearing glad tidings of great joy.

I looked at my true parents,
knowing I could either join them,
or be left behind.
It was as it had been once before—
just the 3 of us.

A child of God,
I’d be immersed in water,
baptized by fire,
& impregnated with holy air.
I would be upcycled earth dust.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Mother drank juice for breakfast, covered her white shoulders, & practiced celibacy—all in preparation for the Mormon life as a Mormon wife.

We were Yankees mired in the South, trying to become like the Mormon pioneers of the West—the Saints of Latter Days.

Mother was like a born-again Christian, not a person who was going through the degrees of conversion. Mormonism had saved her from something I could not name.

As there was no man of the house at ours, we had to sit outside in the Florida summer to feed the elders, as if we were Southern Jezebelles.

Our picnic on the patio was laid out as proper as an Emily Post luncheon. We drank lemonade out of plastic goblets—this afternoon “tea.”

Like a collection of china dolls placed on white wicker furniture, we looked like a replica of the Old South in a dollhouse.

There was a war of words with the Mormons & the “born-agains,” the Catholics choosing neutrality in our town of Green Haven, Florabama.

The Pentecostals covered their calves, the Mormons, the shoulders, but the Catholics hadn’t any dress code, yet their sect was as old as time.

The elder missionaries spoke of the opposition they faced from the Baptists & the Pentecostals here, & yet, I saw them all as Christians.

“We’re finally going to be a family again,” David said, & I wondered when had we ever been, but unbeknownst to me, we were the bricks, Mormonism, the mortar.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

He did not drink coffee or sweet tea,
but his eyes melted the ice;
his words blew the steam from my cup,
only for me to see it was half-full.

I liked Elder Roberts,
Caitlin liked Elder Johnson,
but my mother loved them both,
for they represented to her
something she’d once had & lost.

She never spoke of them;
it was as if she’d only lived
to give life to me,
but she told the elders
of her pre-Katryn existence—
a fantasy.

Clean-cut & -shaven,
they didn’t smoke or swear.
They were the wheat
once the chaff had blown away—
a kernel of what all were,
absent the world.

We never touched,
but I fell in love,
for he unearthed something inside me
I’d not known existed—
that spiritual essence David had buried.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Mother had long ago accepted Caitlin loving Cara’s mother, for she believed it was she, Laurie Nolan, that she loved as her mother.

Caitlin was like a foundling, still lost in our little family, for she sought the attention I never had to.

Red hair like the Devil was all I remembered of my father. What spell had he cast in his life, so Mother cast out all others after his death?

She looked over at me & smiled, & in that moment, I felt we’d connected. I wanted to hold onto that moment so much, but I blinked, & it was gone.

Whenever David said he didn’t believe in organized religion, the Baptists, who told him he was hell-bound, would say, “What about disorganized?”

Though David believed marriage largely a secular affair, the fact that Mother would marry him for time only & seek eternity with Patrick wounded him.

Caitlin fingered her St. Christopher’s medal as she looked at me. She knew I would never believe but for love—love for Elder Roberts.

I put a hand to my hair, sensing his touch, though it was my mother whose hair he was fondling.

They tossed that which was against the Word of Wisdom—Mother’s coffee maker & sun tea jar, until all that was left were wine glasses for water.

Our home was being Mormonized while David stood there, leaning against the doorjamb, watching my mother’s Catholic identity being erased.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

David loved me in a way no silly girlfriend ever could. My David lived to bless me with his love, to be my kind, wise, & wonderful friend.

I began to think of my mother as an interloper; I could not explain why, for nothing he gave her, had he first taken from me.

Mother hated grocery shopping, so it was I who went with him. Mother hated cooking, so it was I who worked beside him.

Mother hated modeling for his paintings, but I didn’t mind. Mother may have been his lover, but it was I who was his friend.

Seeing how happy David was with Mother, I felt like a little girl again; they were in their own little world, I, the moon that shone on it.

I was losing him to Mother, & yet, I knew him marrying her would cement his place in our family. He would live in this house, share her bed.

The rare times I fell ill, it was David I called for, & it was during those times that he would read to me like Mother never had.

Elder Roberts chose David for my mother to marry in the temple, & my heart bubbled over with love for him, for he loved whom I loved.

I looked at Elder Roberts & saw his hope that I would join my mother in the waters of baptism. I knew then, it was only a matter of time.

Memories were treasures that sometimes bubbled up out of the ocean, covered with grime, eroded by time, so they were often unreliable.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

My maternal grandparents had married late in life, which was how Mother had ended up the only child of Catholic parents.

It was rare when Mother spoke of my grandparents, but when she did, it was only in general terms—like the omniscient narrator of a story.

Mother pulled back the velvet curtains from our picture window, welcoming the moon-dark that would be chased out by the missionary light.

“You’ll have to forgive me, but it seems strange to be calling someone so young & out of habit a sister,” Mother said to Sister Grahame.

Why did Sister Wiley & Sister Grahame make me feel as if I was committing a sin whenever Elder Roberts even looked at me?

I thought of Elder Roberts & a warm, wonderful feeling enveloped me like a towel fresh out of the dryer. My love for him was clean & good.

“They’re tutti-frutti over Jell-O in Utah. Jell-O has a wholesome image—like my companion here,” Sister Grahame said.

There was a cherubic sweetness about Elder Johnson, just as there was a pious tartness about Elder Roberts thickly veiled with male beauty.

Our family had developed a special bond with the elders—a bond that seemed to transcend a shared religion.

The sister missionaries drove a car, while the elders rode their bicycles. It all seemed so chivalrous somehow.