#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

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The distinguished-looking man sat with the woman who would pull the thread that would help me come apart at the seams through an unholy act.

Sister Wiley wore a mask of syrupy sweetness, but the mask didn’t cover her eyes that emitted a cold, calculating glare.

Glancing in Sister Wiley’s direction I saw, as she looked at Mother, something that resembled fear, for Mother’s new faith overshone her old one.

Like the kapps Mennonite women wore, both sexes wore sacred garments under their clothes, where only God could see them.

Mother had never had any use for girlfriends before, & I wondered why she had let Sister Wiley choose to be hers.

I saw something in Elder Roberts then that I often saw in David: tolerance; but it would fail him when I needed it most.

Sister Wiley watched us from across the room, plucking a prune from a pewter platter & taking a bite, smiling that Mona Lisa smile.

David wanted me to go to University, but the Relief Society (or, as Caitlin said, the Sisterhood of the Raveling Dresses) had me rethinking such an endeavor.

The day our Little Miss stopped being a drama princess was the day we would know her personality had finally split.

I’d never seen our secular, nuclear family as isolated, but rather insulated from the world. The Mormons made me see that we were the world.

A Time to Share: Reflections on one stop of my writing journey

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Being a guest blogger for https://getconnectdad.com/ has been a wonderful experience.  I was intrigued by the “52 Traits” we want to instill in our children; writing about them in poetic form has helped me explore such abstracts on a deeper level:  https://sarahleastories.com/get-connected-dad-my-contributions/

I’m a natural born storyteller, and I’ve found that my poems tend to be narratives with strategically-placed line breaks.  With the exception of children’s nursery rhymes, I find myself veering away from rhyme.  I like to say “metaphor is the new rhyme.”

I’ve finally become comfortable sharing my poetry in front of an audience.  My life motto has become “Aw, what the hell?”  I’ve always regretted the times I could’ve read and didn’t, but never the times I did, even if it didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked.

For example, one of my English professors told our class that my short story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck” (about what happens when a prospective member of the Church spikes the punch and brings pot brownies) was supposed to be humorous.  I was thinking, Oh, my god, don’t tell them that.  If they don’t laugh, I’ll be so embarrassed.

Even though “Punch” won first place in the college’s annual literary contest, they didn’t laugh.  That said, I was a bit uncomfortable (I’m sure I was breaking out in hives) during the reading (it was, after all, a super silly story), but I did it, and afterwards, a few people came up to me and told me how great it was.  (People may not always laugh, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it was funny; I don’t laugh at every joke I hear on “Cheers”).  One even asked for a copy.

The girl who asked for a copy used to be a member of the FLDS Church (her father had four wives), and so she understood all the nuances of my piece.  I’ve found that of all the different kinds of writing I do, I enjoy writing my humor pieces the most.  Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a funny gal (more just witty), I keep in mind that Lucille Ball was very serious in real life.

Out of the nine readers at the poetry reading at my college, I was the only one who read anything humorous  (“Hanging from the Family Tree”).  I like to say “a little subtlety and a little levity goes a long way.”  When offered the chance to read again, I read a serious poem (one I would describe as “hauntingly beautiful”), but everyone loved the first.  My inspiration for that one?  My family:  The gift that keeps on regifting.  (I was even asked to perform an encore the next day at the office.)

I’d worn my white snood; I decided that would be my schtick.  (When I used to color my hair red, I thought “The Lady in Red” had a nice ring to it; I would wear all red, down to my shoes.)  Since I had to stop coloring my hair when I was expecting (only to find I had gray hairs), I had to ditch that notion, at least during my child-bearing years.  (And have you ever tried finding red shoes?  Especially in a size 10?)

That night of the reading (taking a piece of advice one of the other students in my poetry class gave), I opened with a joke I’d overheard in the English department:

Q:  What does the Secret Service shout when they see a bullet coming towards the President?

A:  Donald!  Duck!

That icebreaker helped dispel almost all my self-consciousness.

My advice:  Don’t overthink it.  Just go for it.

 

 

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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The elder missionaries were priests;
I was a nun.
We could not touch but through words,
& I felt the trajectory of our family shift,
splintering.

When I was a girl,
I saw Mother marrying David
as keeping him close to me.
When I became a woman,
I saw it as taking him away.

Just as they believed one could be baptized by proxy,
I wondered if, in my own way,
I wanted to marry David, with Mother as my proxy.

For love,
for Mother,
David would love the Church.
For love,
for Elder Roberts,
I would do the same.

He knew himself,
but I, to myself,
was a stranger.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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Sister Grahame was the moderator
Sister Hatcher the observer
the elders, the participants—
all in an effort to socialize us into the Church.

Caitlin was 13 going on 17,
I was 18 going on 14.
I was sexually naive,
even as she was sexually savvy,
& it was, in this way,
I outpaced her.

When I accepted there might be a God,
I had all the answers I needed.
When I began to dabble in religion,
I was more confused than ever.

Though Mother was the solely converted,
we all changed by her changing.
The Mormons took her places
we weren’t sure we wanted to go.

Christ’s blood had been turned to water,
His body into leavened bread
that had been torn to pieces.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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Their culture was Norman Rockwell-ish,
their language, without offense,
their borders open to all who would
obey their commandments.

The genders were distinct—
from heads of home to hearts of home.
They were black-&-white about such things,
the world, 50 shades of grey.

The Mormons saw the family
as the foundation for salvation, whereas
I saw families as something invented
for the orderliness of civilization.

The Separation of Men & Women
was like the Separation of Church & State,
of Law & Medicine,
for in separateness,
there was no Equality.

Men were home teachers,
women, visiting teachers,
& every member was a missionary.
In Catholicism, you went to Church
& then you went home.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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To me, family was every kind of Heaven:
celestial, terrestrial, telestial.
The father, the sun,
mother, the moon,
children, the stars.

Mormon Heaven was one of progressing personhood,
Protestant Heaven, of angelic spirithood,
for we were perfected in Christ’s sainthood.

From Catholicism,
I learned that babies were in need of baptism.
From Mormonism,
I learned that it was the dead.

Mormon Heaven was not a state of mind,
but on a planet; God was not a spirit,
but a Deity of flesh & bone, who had been,
as we once were.

Mormons reached outside themselves;
we sought the answers amongst ourselves.
We were an island with walls,
& they were the whole damn world.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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Their culture was foreign to me—
with their big families, their big love,
their absolutes over theories.
They were so damn sure of themselves.

I’d never know just when it was
Elder Roberts fell in love with me,
but I’d know the exact second,
like a knot on a chain,
when it was he fell out.

I saw in Elder Roberts a longing
that mirrored my own.
However, the love I had for David,
would lose me the love I had sown.

Over gumbo & greens,
we broke cornbread with the elders.
They were our friends—
one would become family,
the other, an enemy.

A Catholic nun was seen as the highest thing
a woman could achieve,
in Mormonism, a stay-at-home mom.
Both required submission under a man.