#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: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

We sat around playing board games: Mother, the rest of us, & the elders. We were like a real family, the elders our brothers.

I suddenly found myself longing for the kind of chaos that seemed to come with the big families that made up the Johnson & Roberts households.

My little family was close, but not so impressive, for I was 1 of 2, not 1 of 4, or 1 of more. The Mormons made me want more.

And it was when I looked at Elder Roberts, & he looked at me, that I felt I had already found what I hadn’t known I was looking for.

I’d walked through the valley of the shadow of someone else’s death for too long. I was ready to live for the living, to worship life, to worship the creation, if not the Creator.

“I can believe in anything, Laurie, as long it means we’ll be together,” he said, holding her at arm’s length. “My God will be your God.”

David’s presence had cast out the shadow Patrick’s absence had cast over us.

It had taken David’s leap of faith—David, whose blood did not flow through mine—& not my own mother’s, to get me to commit to baptism.

I took one of their hands in each of mine—a prophecy—for where I connected them to me, I separated them from one another.

The sun ceased to shine, shrouding us in darkness. David’s eyes glowed, penetrating me, for he knew my heart was still true to him & all that he did not believe.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #397: Land of (Blank)

If a New York minute is thirty seconds, then a Southern minute is ninety.
–from “Poplar Bluff: A Memoir”

kars.jpg

The Land of Dixie

Selling their messages on street corners are
Bible-bashers, cardboard-carrying hobos,
and dancing people wearing sandwich signs,
while cars plastered with Bible quotes
or slapped with a COEXIST bumper sticker,
coexist on the streets,
passing the temples of capitalism,
the cross-bearing churches that
capitalize on the guilty man’s soul,
seeking deep, silver-lined pockets.

The rapture’s coming soon for some
in this land of Deep South Protestantism,
where hearts are blest,
where everyone’s either saved or going to hell,
or just plain don’t know what the hell’s going on.

Pensacola Beach is the jewel,
set in fool’s gold turning green,
with its sand like ground pearls,
water vacillating between
emeralds and sapphires,
and homes the color of Jordan almonds.
The flip-flap-flopping of their footwear is their answer
to Australia’s slip-slap-slopping,
beating a rapid tattoo on the boardwalk.

Such paradise is everyone’s playground,
home to the earthly blest,
where few transplants are rejected,
their organs pumping the lifeblood
into the economy,
for which the tourists are both
donors and recipients.

I look around at my side of town,
at the heat waves shimmering off the asphalt,
the mud-filled potholes,
the never-ending road work;
I still see conflict and war,
deconstruction alongside reconstruction—
a rebirth of conservative nationalism.

I am home.

Note: Slip-slap-slop is a real thing: http://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/past-tv-campaigns/slip-slop-slap-original-sunsmart-campaign.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-397

For more on Pensacola:

https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/19/daily-prompt-west-end-girls-2/
https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/
https://sarahleastories.com/2016/11/23/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-when-blank/

#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.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #396: Historical Persona

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“…well-behaved women seldom make history,” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

This poetry prompt happened to coincide with a scholarship essay I started yesterday. The topic: A book that changed my life.

Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson, by Daniel Mark Epstein, was the book that changed my perspective on women serving as pastors.

For years, I was a member of a church that did not allow women to serve in the priesthood. I never had a problem with this, because if you don’t like a church’s policy, you’re free to leave it. (I didn’t leave for this reason, but for numerous others; however, that’s another story for another day.) I honestly didn’t have any desire to be ordained—enough demands were already made without that responsibility. I’m not the type to want something just because I can’t have it; I’m the type who says you can keep it.

I remember the reason behind this was explained quite eloquently: Women were innately more spiritual than men, and because they could bear children, men needed something to bring them closer to God, that being the priesthood. (Black men couldn’t be priesthood holders till 1978, so I’m thinking the policy on women will change in less than 100 years.)

I’ve always been one to follow the dictates of my own conscience, but one’s conscience is often clouded by the imperfect ideas of others. I realized the only reason it didn’t seem right for a woman to be a minister was because that’s what I had been taught.

I read this book because I was fascinated with the idea of a female evangelist—a twice-divorced woman and sometimes single mother who founded her own Church and helped feed the hungry in the depths of the Great Depression.

I think the illustrious life of Sister Aimee is summed up perfectly with this portion from an article by John Updike in The New Yorker:

She brushed aside the distinction between the “deserving” and the “undeserving” poor, and that between legal and illegal residents. One Mexican, the actor Anthony Quinn, who as a teenager acted as a translator for her, told an interviewer, “During the Depression . . . the one human being that never asked you what your nationality was, what you believed in and so forth, was Aimee Semple McPherson. All you had to do was pick up the phone and say, ‘I’m hungry,’ and within an hour there’d be a food basket there for you. . . . She literally kept most of that Mexican community . . . alive.” (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/04/30/famous-aimee)

~

Ten Dollars and a Tambourine:

The Ballad of Sister Aimee

“True Christianity is not only to be good but to do good.” –Aimee Semple McPherson

I am an imperfect messenger,
relaying the perfect message.

I am the voice on the radio—
feminine flesh spreading the Word.

I am a widow, a mother,
a minister who feeds the hungry mouths,
who feeds the hungry soul.

I see the divinity in humankind—
the opposite of Darwin’s evolution—
where men and women are made in the image
of their Creator,
not the created.

I lost a husband in Hong Kong,
but gained a daughter.
My second husband gave me my second child—
my only begotten son.

I followed God,
but my husband did not follow me.

From tent to temple,
I preached that everybody is somebody to Jesus,
for everyone should matter to someone.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-396

Note:  I seem to enjoy writing persona poems from the perspective of strong, conservative women.  Here is the home for my third-person persona poem on Grace Coolidge: https://sarahleastories.com/2016/01/26/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-337-theme-persona-poem/

 

 

#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.