#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

It was Tradition vs. Truth
when it came to the Mormons
discussing the Catholics,
who seemed to be their biggest competition
when it came to procreation
& pomp & circumstance
& the rigid dogma that went far beyond
asking Jesus into your heart,
which I found strange,
as the mind was the control-center
of our actions–
intentional & autonomic;
our heart,
we simply followed.

Was it considered child sacrifice
to give up potential children
for the sake of love?
If so, David had done so–
he’d let his line die
so that with Mother,
he would truly live.

Just as God had no history,
for He had no beginning & no end,
so David had always seemed…
until I learned his past,
& the secrets thereof,
so that his flesh became more real
& beautiful
than it had ever been,
for, as the Mormons believed,
what was a spirit without a body?

The Mormons didn’t necessarily rewrite history
but rather,
they ignored it,
employing apologists for those who could not ignore
the Church’s past.
It had taken years of refining
to produce a religion
that exemplified Fifties-type family values.

I had told that the good feelings I was feeling
were the Holy Spirit.
It was almost New-Agey–
all this talk of feelings–
with no respect to logic or reason.
I began not to question things
but question me.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Because of Patrick’s absence,
David had been able to grace us
with his presence—
with the grace that was David
personified.

She hadn’t wanted Caitlin before she was born,
but because she’d been a Catholic,
she’d been spared.
Before my mother had met my sister,
she had had considered wiping her not off the face of the earth
but out of existence in the minds of every being on the earth.
Catholicism had saved my baby sister.
After she was born,
it wasn’t Catholicism that saved her,
but Caitlin being Caitlin.
She loved Caitlin in a way she would never love me.

David loved my mother without condition,
in every condition.
Even the favor of God wavered.

How many lives had Christianity saved?
How many lives had been destroyed
in Christianity’s name?
Even I,
a questioning Christian,
could see that even non-Christians
had benefited from Christianity’s
existence.

For Mother had sought
atonement
in emotional self-flagellation,
even as Protestants
sought verification of theirs
in good works.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I did not want my mother to die, but I wanted David’s love for her to die, for that would be much preferable to hers for him dying first.

Though he had allowed himself to walk into the waters of baptism, he would never walk through the doors of the temple. 

Under the banner of heaven, I pledged my allegiance to David Dalton, but would never recognize his allegiance to my mother.

It was a jubilee of sorts—the tinkling of our fluted stems signaling the beginning of the New Year & of the best years of our lives to come.

It wasn’t the vow David made to my mother, that he would love her, but rather, the vow he made to God to never leave me, that showed me his heart.

Mother’s redecoration of Maxwell Manor resembled the Mormon temples that were open to the moral elite, rather than the Catholic cathedrals that were open to the unwashed masses.

Mother had put off the natural woman to put on the spiritual, for in her eyes, the 2 entities could not co-exist, for 1 would always rule over the other. 

As she drew closer to God, she withdrew from us, even as David & I grew closer than ever.  A part of me still feared losing him if he completely lost Mother.

I had never heard David thank God for anything before, save that night in the hospital, & I wondered, if, in his own way, he was changing, too.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

My mother had lost her virginity & heart to David; I would lose only one of these to him.

Mother saw emotional self-flagellation as a form of atonement for adultery, but she’d only denied David marriage, not sex.

Like David, the great king, he had taken a woman who had belonged to another, except that David, according to Mormon doctrine, had been barred from the celestial kingdom forever.

David Dalton, like that same David who had slain Goliath in his youth, had been responsible for my father’s death?

My intake of breath was acute, as if the sharpness in Mother’s words had floated upwards & entered me, cutting me up inside, so that I bled.

I prayed not for God’s forgiveness, but for my father’s, for wishing he hadn’t been mine.  Had I been David’s, Mother would’ve loved me as a mother should, for I was the ball & Caitlin, the chain.

My disappointment overshadowed the love I had for them, & it ate at me—not the disappointment itself, but that I allowed my disappointment to be so great. 

A CTR (or “Choose the Right”) ring in the Mormon Church was akin to the “True Love Waits” rings the Protestants wore.  Both were centered on remaining pure before marriage & would no longer be worn after marriage, for it was assumed that as long as people got sex, even if it was only with one person their entire lives, they would be pacified.

I tossed my CTR ring away–the way a disenchanted ex-wife would her wedding ring.  I was neither married in the Church nor to it; it was a purity ring–a promise to remain untouched before marriage, after which I could have as much procreative sex as I wanted.

The revelations in the yard hadn’t just told me I had lost my mother, but that the mother I loved & admired hadn’t existed at all.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

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
through adultery.

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.
For her,
he had risked his eternal life,
even, in her own way,
she had considered herself
above God’s law.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

For I was told that I had loved the man who had given me life,
even as I loathed the woman who had helped him do it.
Catholicism had saved me in my unborn state,
& for that, I would be indebted to it forever.

My earliest memories
had been recorded on a machine
that was still rapidly developing,
so that they were subject
to tampering,
to being recorded over—
like a double exposure.

I trusted David with my heart & life & body
as surely as I trusted God,
whoever He was,
with my soul.

When I’d thought my father dead,
I’d hated him;
when I found him alive,
I loved him,
if for no other reason
than that I had been told I had,
indeed,
once loved him.

I’d visited an empty grave,
when I could’ve been visiting a living person.
Rather than stroll through the valley of the shadow
of another’s death,
I could’ve been living in the light
that was my life.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

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.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

The hot chocolate that tasted like dirt wasn’t enough to steam away the winter chill that blew through the holes in our tights & openings in our scarves as we went a-caroling among the leaves so green.

We took the presence of a Nativity scene as an indication of a safe house, a friendly home, and we caroled our way through Christendom.

The glow from the tree gave the illusion of a gloriole, and it was to Mother’s light that the missionary angels were drawn.

Machines had kept my father alive, & I wondered if he was in purgatory, between 2 worlds, knowing if that machine malfunctioned, it would be the end of both his lives.

David’s allegiance to my mother hurt more than her deception; he was a beautiful accessory to her crime.

The Church admonished its members to be honest in all their dealings with their fellow man, & so I wondered about Abraham, lying about Sarah.

I had once believed in total autonomy—until I’d read the story of Pharaoh & how God had hardened His heart to bring about His purpose.

Removing Patrick from life support was in Mother’s best convenience, just as choosing not to abort Caitlin had been against hers.  Perhaps she’d seen forsaking her life in the servitude of motherhood as penance for destroying Patrick’s.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

Mother wanted her stripling warriors,
like in the Book of Mormon—
sons, I feared, who would be David’s Only Begotten,
&, therefore, favored above me.

Catholicism & Mormonism were 2
of a Christian kind.
The first had their cathedrals,
the latter, their temples;
both had their godly quiverfuls.

The Church was constructed on feelings of faith,
that those good feelings were the Spirit,
testifying—to the deceitful heart—the truthfulness of all things.

Mine eyes saw the glory of the Mormon Lord,
manifested in their wonderful works.
Mine ears heard their heavenly hymns,
glorifying Joseph Smith—
their personal Prophet.

They spoke of Jesus marrying & having children,
& I thought how ungodly this seemed,
even as The Man had died without dignity.

Why I Tell My Daughter She’s Beautiful

20180513_130632

When I mentioned to someone I trusted that my daughter was getting genetically tested, I explained, “To find out why she is the way she is.”

It was never to “figure out what’s wrong with her,” because I don’t see anything wrong.  She isn’t broken, in need of fixing, but rather, in need of additional guidance and patience to help her be the best person she can be.  Just like I needed math tutors last semester.

All test results were normal, though I’ve been asked by many people (all health professionals) if she was autistic.  She is definitely somewhere on the spectrum, but on the high-functioning end.

When my mother was alive, all she saw was her specialness, not her special needs.  “That’s just who she is,” she would say, because for her, and for me, and for all who love her, it was that whole unique and wonderfully-made thing.

*

My child has the most incredible memory, whereas mine is pretty crappy.  Sometimes I ask my husband if he remembers if I ate anything for breakfast.  I feel like Kelly Bundy from “Married With Children” in that episode where she loses a fact every time she gains a fact, because there’s only so much space in her airhead; she forgets on a game show a football trivia question about her father–something about these things called touchdowns.

However, a memory like my daughter’s has its challenges.  It took me forever to get her to unlearn “shit,” after my parents thought it was freaking hilarious when she tipped out of her Minnie Mouse chair and said, “Awww, shit!”  When they told me about it, I couldn’t help but laugh, even though I admonished her later that young ladies don’t use that word.

That’s said, salty language and an overabundance of sweet snacks are truly the stuff of grandparents.

*

My daughter also has an incredible ear for sounds–she actually corrected the teacher on the difference between a helicopter and an airplane.  As much as I would love for her thing to be words, I believe it will be music.

*

When a “neurologist” (I’m not even sure what she was, she didn’t even bother introducing herself or familiarizing herself with my child’s medical record before her appointment) said that our daughter’s face had a trace of dysmorphia, my husband got pissed while I got so upset, I started crying.

On the way home, I kept looking back for some trace of what this woman saw, but all I saw was this stunningly beautiful little girl with perfectly symmetrical features and enviable blue eyes.  I like to joke with my dad that all other kids looked like dogs after I had mine (not really, but parents are biased).

*

I know it’s a Thing for girls to want to be superheroes over princesses, to major in STEM, and for their parents to praise their strength rather than their beauty, and I get some of that, but there will be plenty of people in my daughter’s life who will say something unkind.  It is my job–my calling–as her mother, to build her up without tearing others down.

My mom grew up thinking she was ugly because her mom never told her she was pretty (and she was!), and so my mom always told me I was–even when I was going through this hideous awkward stage where I looked like the female (and brunette) version of that bully in A Christmas Story.  (At least I did in one of my school pictures.)  Of course, I believed Mom only said that because she was my mother, but I know she meant it, too.

That said, my mom always told me that her grandmother told her that “Pretty is as pretty does.”  I let my daughter know when she is being ugly, just as I tell her that she is strong and smart and all those other things.

*

I’m not blind to my daughter’s quirks, but it rubbed me the wrong way when the people at the center seemed like they were trying to push us into “family planning” (like to have another one like the one I have would be so horrible).  I don’t even like the way “family planning” sounds,  and I don’t practice it.  I don’t feel that way because a man in the Vatican or a bunch of men in Salt Lake don’t believe in it (Jesus died for me, they didn’t), but it’s my personal, spiritual belief.  (I will, however, concede that I would probably feel differently if I had more than half a dozen.)

Sometimes you just want to say someone, “Let they who are without imperfection be the first to cast the first birth control pill,” because we’re not talking Tay-Sachs or Huntington’s chorea here.  My daughter isn’t suffering–she is one of the happiest kids I know.  She’s never even thrown a tantrum.  She’s gotten upset and frustrated, but she’s never been one of those little horrors you see on that British nanny show.

*

My daughter has shown me that we are more than our genes, our chromosomes, our cells, for they only tell part of the story of who we are, and what amazing things we can become.