I Am a Slow-Speaking Lady
I am a slow-speaking lady,
a cracked Southern belle.
I am a Pollyanna at times,
an H.L. Mencken at others.
I am a Christian outside church,
a skeptic, a questioner, inside.
I am a lover of old things,
a user of new things.
I am okay and not okay.
I go by no other name—
no Mrs., no Dr.,
and never Sally.
I am someone’s brown-haired,
I am a Lucy,
looking for her Ethel.
I am a bra-hating
stuck in a society
stuck on teats.
I am a 35-year-old mama
playing her gender role
to the cross.
I am a black Irish,
number the stars.
I am an open book,
a woman of mystery—
right down to the
I am unilaterally deaf,
bilaterally blinded by
what is going on in the world,
for mine is a series of
I am strong as spider’s silk,
as vulnerable as Hitch’s
I am all these things;
I am more than these things,
for there is no end
to that which makes me,
She felt that waiting tables was beneath her,
that working behind a register did not
utilize her learned skills and innate talents,
never knowing that the smiley face she drew
in whipped cream on a child’s chocolate chip pancake
or the few extra cherries she put in their Shirley Temple Tantrum
made their day,
or that it was her cashiering job
that ultimately paid for those little extras
that made her day.
We sat around playing “Clue,” not knowing that the person who would become the true murderer, was just outside the board.
“It would be nothing to believe in a God we could see, but to not see & believe—that’s what faith is,” Brad said.
Sisters Corbin & Kyle were like nuns, daring not show an ankle or hint of cleavage, which Sister Grahame had done, & Sister Hatcher had none.
The advent of the new sisters, who were more like Catholic postulates, brought with them a peace that hadn’t existed between the other 2.
Tony was like St. Paul, believing it was better to marry than to burn with passion—which would be fine if his passions were limited to one girl.
The Mormons left much to the imagination, but mine for Elder Roberts roamed wild.
The spirituality of the Mormon Church made me feel a stranger, but their sociability gave me a sense of belonging I had never known.
Then my gaze rested on Sister Wiley, who was oblivious to the 2 new souls joined in happy reunion & sweetest communion with God the Father.
When Sister Wiley’s eyes met mine, I was chilled, & I knew, underneath the golden girl, there was a tarnished silver lining.
She Comes in Dreams
For even as the kingdom of God was inside her,
so was her second home:
that world she built in her mind,
a world of poetry, stories, fantasies, and dreams—
a world that was an escape from her first;
and she prayed that so it was written,
so it was true—
that the first shall be last,
and the last shall be first.
When she gave birth to the daughter
who would cause her screams,
she did not know she was giving birth
to her own death 20 years later-
a death that would silence those screams.
She lived a life without regrets,
but then, she had no memory.
It was bliss.
For if only he’d known she’d asked for him,
he wouldn’t have left Tara,
with Ashley alone & aggrieved,
the remnants of The Old South–
burnt and faded from Bonnie Blue
to bleached denim–
the last of which was
gone with the wind.
She was sorry she ever lied,
for because of her lie,
the lie became a truth.
For she’d wanted 7 children
& 1 husband,
but ended up with 7 husbands
& 1 child–
all because she had put
her husbands before the 1.
They believed in a premortal existence—
their souls went from everlasting to everlasting,
even as I’d been given amnesia at birth.
He led me into the still, warm water,
so that he could claim my soul,
& lead me onto the path his father had
paved for him–
not dirt with a picket fence,
but asphalt with guardrails.
To Elder Roberts, I was ethereal,
worthy of awe.
To David, I was worthy of his love.
I was earthy and real,
& he loved me in all my forms.
My life would now be full of defining moments,
like dots on a timeline—
a line that had been as straight
as the cessation of a beating heart.
The Catholics put Jesus up on the cross,
the Protestants took Him down,
but the Mormons–
they took the cross that was left,
& carried it.
Under the Floridian Sun
They wore their special glasses,
when it was twilight at noonday.
There was a cessation of sorts—
of everything that made the news these days:
outrage at inanimate objects of long dead souls
rather than living oppressors,
wars and rumors of wars,
and the 24-hour propaganda cycle
that spun from both sides
as the world spun out of control.
It was during this natural phenomenon
that the shades of Orwell’s 1984
Their eyes were watching God today.
For all that was seen was this crossover
in the visible heavens.
And while everyone else was looking up,
they were looking at each other,
not blinded by that which was extremely bright
and incredibly far away;
they were not eclipsed by the seeming merging
of two superpowers.
For he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen,
he’d first been
the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard.
The hour of the eclipse
was a time of calm
in diverse spaces—
like dots on a map—
bringing with it a new awareness
and a coming together of souls
that looked beyond
what was around them,
to what was above them.