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.
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.
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.
Mother was a Mormon in faith & works, whereas I was not. Yet long after I left it, my works (or lack of sin) would become acceptable to it.
Marriage was akin to a conversion, & then there was a process to keep it. There was no once married, always married—it was never my salvation.
I had always imagined Adam & Eve & all the others to be mere symbols, or representations of the best & the worst traits that human beings possessed.
Mormons loved stories even as Jesus loved parables. There were conversion stories, faith-promoting stories, & stories of Joseph Smith’s birth, life, ministry, murder, & his role in the life to come. He was a god, even as God was God.
The Mormons had their mottos: “Modesty is the best policy” (which was always directed at the ladies) & “I didn’t promise it would be easy; I only promised it would be worth it” (or so they said Jesus said).
How Mormons were supposed to live was outlined to the smallest detail—to keep everything as uniform as the concourses of the angels in Heaven.
Tony, Mart, & Mick thought of themselves as “The Three Wise Mor-men,” but Kath, Leann, & I saw them as The Three Stooges—an unholy trinity.
As Mother played the piano, I looked out of the corner of my eye at Brad’s profile, and saw the story of my life—watching men watching her.
Faith was the acceptance
of things that could not be proven,
& hope that our faith
would get us those things
from that which could not be proven.
He’d wanted no children,
but he would have them
for salvation’s sake,
for his wife’s happiness,
in the Church,
conception was akin to birth.
In Catholicism, God was everywhere;
in Mormonism, He was not.
He’d gone from limitless
as the sole Ruler
of this world,
in an eternity of worlds.
My friend Brad would’ve given up the priesthood for me,
David, his own soul,
but Elder Roberts,
not even his reputation;
I had meant that little to him.
If my heart was hardened,
had God Himself hardened it—
like He had Pharaoh’s—
to bring about His work?
Was not autonomy an illusion?
The clicking of laptop keyboards in a haze of coffee semi-consciousness lent a collegiate atmosphere to the bookstore.
I shelved the thought of Elder Roberts, like a book I had read as a child & had gone back to, only to find I had outgrown it.
In Mormonism, there was a Heavenly Mother, & I often wondered if that was the other part of “we” God spoke of collectively in Genesis.
I’d hidden Elder Roberts’ letter in David’s first edition of Gone with the Wind, for I felt the title exemplified our forbidden love.
Sometimes you chose to let go of those you loved, but you didn’t let them go if you believed you could make them happy.
Elder Roberts was enlisted in “God’s Army,” but I was a captain of David’s, defending his world as Elder Roberts spoke of the one to come.
Whenever Sister Schafer mentioned wine (which she called “strong drink”), the emphasis was always on “new,” meaning unfermented.
Mother spoke of this mysterious “burning in the bosom” which she claimed was the Spirit that testified of the truthfulness of all things.