While Caitlin had gone to my father’s grave
to pay respects to a dead man,
Mother & I had gone to Church
to pay respects to the dead
Son of God.
Even as David had kept secrets from my mother,
he had kept secrets from me,
yet there wasn’t one secret either of us kept from him.
Machines had kept my father’s body alive,
his soul hovering in Purgatory,
while Mother & David had enjoyed heaven
Mother was as Goddess,
for she had taken us to an empty grave,
only to resurrect my father from the dead
with a few words.
Had David allowed my father to die,
he could’ve loved my mother without sin.
he had risked his eternal life,
even, in her own way,
she had considered herself
above God’s law.
I’d idolized David,
for I’d been as Mary Magdalene—
seeing my salvation in the form
of a man who spoke not in parables
of the everyday man,
but in the philosophies of the enlightened man.
Like most women,
I blamed the woman—
for her adulterous affair
with the man I loved.
She was the seducer,
the charmed participant
under her hypnosis.
For Christians, the Bible was the once upon a time,
the happily ever after.
For Mormons, it was only the story of God’s reign as God,
the story of this earth—the planet He had created,
a planet that belonged to him only because He had earned it.
The words of this modern Prophet with the middle initial
words that had become like newsprint
left on the sidewalk in the rain.
While he lived,
my father had been a stranger to me,
but as he lay dying,
& I beheld my co-creator;
I experienced an intimacy for him,
if not with him,
for the first time.
My father’s epitaph had been a lie,
engraved into a stone tablet—
just like the 10 Commandments.
Both had been used to control beliefs.
David’s wealth was prolonging my father’s life,
even as he was enjoying my father’s wife.
Like Mary Magdalene,
I’d been visiting the empty grave of
the man my mother had practically deified—
the man whose blood would redeem me
from psychological incest.
For the sake of her soul,
she would not divorce,
but she would kill.
For the sake of Patrick’s soul.
she had preserved the body by
keeping him hooked to machines—
a mechanical embalming.
Mother Mary had been Mother’s idol,
but now she saw herself as a martyr—
a saint but not of the Catholic kind.
we had visited an empty grave,
like Mary coming to see
the empty tomb.
The latter had risen,
the former had never died,
but had suffered for the sins
committed in Mother’s world.
who I’d thought a prince of a man,
an earthly king of kings—
had lain with a married woman,
whose husband he had paid
to keep alive.
Like King David,
David had kept the Fosters
a secret from Mother,
even as he had kept my father
a secret from me.
He was a complicated man,
& because of him,
I was a complicated woman.
My mother could’ve chosen to end my life in the womb,
but I could not choose to end her life outside it,
even though she had killed something inside me.
The foundation of our existence shook,
the pillars & posts of transparency tumbled around me,
& I walked through the valley of the shadow of spiritual death
in a temporal world that had become an anathema to me.
I felt the Church had not been made for me,
but I had been made for it,
for I was virgin-pure.
I had saved myself,
rather than get saved.
I’d been a provincial girl,
begat by a tortured piano player,
groomed by a tortured soul
who loved the sound of the
piano player’s voice.
Marriage, in the Church,
was an inevitability,
children, a possibility.
My purity was prized,
in a way,
even more so,
for I could always
“go & sin no more,”
but if I was barren,
such a thing was up to God
or science to sort out.
Marital, procreative sex was considered beautiful;
sexual sin, second only to murder,
& I wondered if, in God’s courtroom,
adultery would be akin to manslaughter.
David had provided shelter to his lover
& her children,
shelter to those who had raised him,
though it would be I
who would shelter 2 of his children,
prematurely evicting one of them.
One could have worth
without being worthy,
for worthiness was measured
done & undone—
& how many days till one’s
Mother had spent her life atoning for her adulterous sin,
but it was David who ultimately paid for it—
a sort of accidental Christ.
Caitlin was a candy-colored musical,
Mother, a film noir,
but I, I would become the Greek drama
that would unfold with each retelling.
According to Mormon doctrine,
King David had been barred from the celestial kingdom forever,
but my David had sent no man to his death
for coveting another man’s wife.
Mother spoke of the beach—
that place we seldom went to.
She spoke of a memory there,
of her wishing not to die,
but for another man to die,
so that she could live with another.
She was a goddess of the Domestic Arts,
a knitter of broken hearts,
a cooker of comfort foods,
a cleaner of sacred spaces,
a maker of beds—a woman who had chosen that path
because it was the only one her husband showed her.
She quit her family, choosing her lover & his children,
but found herself haunted by the husband & daughter she’d left behind.
When her lover died & she returned years later,
she saw she’d built her happiness on their unhappiness.
She ended a marriage to begin a relationship
that would never end in wedlock,
hoping her new love would make
her husband’s same mistake.
She married the man of her recurring dreams,
the man of one woman’s single nightmare,
only to find when she slept,
he became more real.
She went to rehab to overcome her alcoholism,
only to find the man addicted to pornography
who became addicted to her.