*Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

Her maiden name was her something old—
far removed from who she had become.
Her married name was her something new—
in her newly-widowed state.
Her something borrowed was a string of pearls,
for they represented perfection & integrity,
longevity & fertility.
Her something blue was the cameo
David had custom-made by a jeweler
for the only daughter
of a poor Irish father & strict Russian mother—
this daughter who had remodeled herself
into the All-American housewife, circa 1958,
& into someone unrecognizable to me.

Donna, ever practical, despised Valentine’s Day
as others despised Christmas songs before Thanksgiving.
Bearing tidings of clean living,
she had brought a plastic laundry basket filled with sundries:
soap, for washing the body after sex,
toothpaste, for washing out the mouth after sex,
& laundry detergent, for washing the sheets after sex—
items that would be donated to the local women’s shelter
to which Mother gave all her old clothes but never new ones.

Sister Kyle presented a wooden box
that looked suspiciously like a cigar box.
The pillowy satin glued to the inside reminded Caitlin of a coffin,
&, resting on the unblemished, flesh-colored material
was a set of real scriptures—not the Church-issued ones.
That vessel would become a Pandora’s box—
filled with a corpus my mother would live by . . .
& die by.

Sister Thompson, who had just turned “Social Security eligible,”
handed Mother a bag with Happy Birthday on it.
Inside was a gaudy bowl with all the characteristics of a recycled gift,
for no markings indicated it was new;
Sister Bear gave Mother a coupon organizer stuffed with starter coupons,
though we wouldn’t know most of them had expired
until we had gotten home,
which was like getting a gift certificate to a restaurant,
only to find that the restaurant had gone out of business.
Sister Batts had not brought a gift but a Ramen salad,
which Sister Wiley had hidden as if it were a meager offering,
akin to Cain’s vegetables,
for worse than a recycled gift
was recycled food.

When Mother held up a lacy black negligee,
the conversation veered into when it was permissible
to remove the sacred garments to don the naughty lingerie.
One-third of those present believed that the material
created a barrier to intimacy when worn right after sex,
but two-thirds of these hostesses
of this manufactured heaven in this mortal life—
like the valiant souls who had been given the opportunity
in the premortal life to live this one—
believed it was most pleasing to the Lord
that garments be replaced immediately
after the act of procreation ceased,
& I knew then,
as sure as I knew my name,
that just as the fancy black would bring Mother & David closer,
the plain white would come between them.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Sweet Little Nothings

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations chocolate

Life had gotten hard
when her husband had gotten sick,
& their gender roles had,
out of necessity,
reversed.
There were the days
that he felt like he was
withering away in isolation,
becoming Mr. Mom & Mr. Dad;
there were the days
she felt like she was stuck somewhere between
Office Space & Groundhog Day.
But when they saw how far they had come
from almost becoming
cardboard-carrying members
of the cardboard box brigade,
saved only because they were not
alone in the world,
they knew they were each doing
what they had to do
to have the life they wanted—
not just for themselves
but for the daughter who walked between them.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

“Do no harm” & “to thine own self be true,”
was my David–
a man of many sensibilities–
but he would never worship that which he could not see.

I hadn’t realized how dead Mother had been
till I saw how alive the Church had made her.
They were as Lazarus,
raising up a new Laurie,
her old soul not made new
but replaced.

Beth & Gerald Foster had been like my fairy godparents,
their diner turning back into a pumpkin,
fertilized by silver bells & cockleshells.

Life pulled us forward now,
& our future began to steal from our past,
diminishing the memories I’d once held close.

In Sacrament, we took Him inside us,
in Sunday school, we learned about Him inside us,
but in Relief Society,
we separated ourselves from the one
we had become one with.

Micropoetry Monday: Strong Women

She was Miss before she married
& took,
upon herself,
by her own free will & choice,
her husband’s name.
When people called her Ms.,
she didn’t bother correcting them,
for her husband had been a Mr.
before her,
& was a Mr. still.
But when someone addressed her
as Mrs. Jameson Adamson,
she did not answer to it,
for her identity was not
in who her husband was—
it was in who she was.

She was stripped of her pride,
but not of her dignity,
which she wore like a mink coat.

The graduate learned in her thirty-seventh year
that life was not about balance but priorities,
for the former was an unattainable ideal;
she learned that there was a season for everything,
for everything was beautiful in its time.
There was a time to learn
& a time to apply what one had learned.
There was a time to read
& a time to write about what one had read–
just as there was always a time to write,
a time to edit,
a time to share,
& a time to read what others shared.
There was a time to speak what she knew
& a time to listen to what she did not.
There was a time to go
& a time to stay,
a time to be something,
but more importantly,
a time to be someone.
There was a time to rise up
& a time to be content,
& it was in that latter time she would stay
until she mastered the tasks entrusted her
so that she could move on
to master
something else.

From Within

God was there between them,
sturdy,
holding both their shaky hands.
Crumbling was that faith
that marriage was forever,
but when they looked at one another,
seeing one another the way they did,
they saw from their reflections
in the windows of their souls
that God was the fulcrum,
and she, the power suit in her marriage
and he,
in his birthday suit,
was a kept man.
But for this practice of self-reflection,
of seeing themselves obstructed in the beam
they saw in one another’s eyes,
they also saw that he needed her
as much as she wanted him.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

At the age of 18, I was finally getting my driver’s license, when I had been content to tag along with David wherever he went.

Food Storage Inventory Exchange was like a cookie exchange, except instead of swapping cake balls for brownie bites, it was rice for beans.

I knew God didn’t care whether I could cook, bake, or sew, for He had given us each different talents, but in the Church, the fluidity of gender roles had frozen in retro time.

I’d accepted Mother just the way she was, even as she had accepted that though I loved her very much, I loved David more.

I’d been given the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism, but perhaps I hadn’t been worthy enough to unwrap it.

Had I a testimony, my heart would’ve been closed to Elder Roberts, & my heart would’ve been opened for another.

My mother’s home style was minimalist, her color, monochrome. It wasn’t till the Mormons came that our lives were infused with vintage color & became a sort of Pleasantville.

Leann & I worked on our sugar cube temple for Relief Society Enrichment Meeting, & I thought how much the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth resembled a glistening piece of Candyland.  A gingerbread house, without the warmth or frills.

Our fridge had never been cluttered with magnets holding up candid pictures or childish artwork or the hundreds of little notes that tiled Leann’s fridge.