He is

Lily

For even as He grew in Mary’s womb,
He had not disappeared from the heavens
of the preconceived & the immortal,
nor from the earth beyond the veil of birth;
He, who was limitless—
limited by neither time nor place—
did not possess,
but came by invitation only.
For those of the New Testament,
He was the Spirit of Christmas Present,
the Old,
the Spirit of a Christmas Yet to Be.
For the planet walkers of today,
He is the Spirit of a Christmas Past—
a spirit who remains ever present,
even as, like books, symbols of His death
are burned or banned,
even as His words are,
like books also,
rewritten or translated according to the times.
He was the literal Son of Mary,
yet her spiritual father.
He is the masculine,
the Immaculate,
the embodiment of The Overcoming.
He is the lone lifeguard who can save
from spiritual drowning,
the storyteller of the common person,
the pescatarian.
He is who He is,
but for many,
He is whoever they imagine Him to be.

Micropoetry Monday: Opposites

Opposites

The Shutterfly edition

His life was spent seeking absolution,
hers, validation.
She sought
what she needed
through God’s images,
but he,
through God Himself.

He was a hospice worker
who sought to make comfortable the ill
& comfort the well.
She was a pathologist
who only dealt with the cadavers
that she disassembled.
He saw his patients as whole,
even as she saw her “visitors”
as parts of one.
She couldn’t deal with the
grieving family members
any more than he could deal
with the body after the soul
had left it.
Their vocations–
his, a calling,
hers, a trade–
was all the reason why
he came home to an empty,
fifth-floor walk-up,
& she surrounded herself
with the presence of so many
who were so full of life.

Money was the only thing
that ever came between them;
he made not enough,
& she made too much.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

mormoni

Our souls had not been created
but simply given earthly vessels
for these diaphanous substances to be poured into.
We had existed before this life.
Because I had not joined the ranks of Lucifer
but of God during the great war in heaven
in the pre-mortal life,
I had been given a body—
only to have to prove myself a second time
that I was worthy enough to be reunited with it
in the afterlife.
It was alleged that memories of this premortal life
were forgotten when we passed through the veil,
with that first breath of life,
& it seemed like the Mormons were the recoverers
of repressed memories,
for how could I deny something
that I was told
I would not remember anyway?

Sister Kyle was floating on a cloud in Kolob,
she was so joy-filled.
When had the Baptists or the Pentecostals
or any of the other churches in town
ever reached out to me like this,
much less cared about me?
My eyes fell on many of the members,
all of whom were smiling & encouraging—
all except Sister Wiley,
whose expression was dark & cunning.
I believed then that it was because
she saw through me,
but only a faker could recognize another one.
She knew that I knew what she was,
even as I knew that she knew what I wasn’t.

A look of realization,
of incredible awe,
came over Elder Roberts.
“I—I think I love—,” he said,
but just then,
the double doors before us opened,
& the rest of his sentiment went unspoken.
I could only guess what he had meant to say then,
wondering had he finished it,
if things would’ve turned out differently between us.

Caitlin was holding her rosary,
the last vestige of our former faith,
as Mother had taken down all the crucifixes in our house,
for Mormons preferred to focus on the resurrection
rather than the crucifixion.
Mother didn’t seem to see me,
but David—
David looked at me as he always did—
with a love that changed not.

My eye was single to the glory of Elder Roberts—
to the promise of celestial glory.
Just as Elder Johnson had said our husbands
would call up their wives from the grave
to ascend into the celestial kingdom alongside them,
so would Elder Roberts,
in the name of Jesus,
call my name
& raise me up from my watery grave,
to prepare me for life as a future Mormon wife.

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.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book

mormoni

Elder Roberts would be baptizing me,
for I had chosen him.
His face brightened when I looked at him
as the other elders turned away to help fill the font,
straighten chairs,
& pass out hymnbooks.
When I looked at this elder,
I didn’t realize that I was looking at my past,
not my future.

Mother looked swallowed up in her baptismal costume,
while David, barefoot, looked so unlike himself,
the hems of the trousers rising above his ankles.
I couldn’t help but think he would’ve looked
more like himself in a toga—
like a conqueror & not the conquered,
for the white onesie the Church had them wear
was infantile & unflattering.
My gaze met his,
& I gave him a look that I told him I felt the same way.
Perhaps being seen like this by the other members
(the Seventh-Day Adventist church down the road from our house
still washed one another’s feet)
was their way of humbling us,
of stripping away our pride.
Mother never looked my way once,
seemingly oblivious that by doing this,
she was rejecting the faith of her fathers,
of her childhood,
& of her youngest child.

I wondered how David’s interview had gone.
I imagined him giving only yes or no answers,
causing them to wonder just a bit.
Our eyes met across the room,
& it was as if we were the only two people in it.
For that moment in time,
we understood each other as we never had before.
For love, we would bury ourselves in the waters of baptism,
drown ourselves in holy water,
only to be resurrected by a lifeguard in white pants.
We would arise from our watery tombs as changed people,
for our lives would never be the same.

I would pretend,
& he would pretend,
& one day,
we would realize the lie we had lived
had become the truth somewhere along the way;
the beautiful lie would have burrowed itself deep inside us,
until we could fight it no longer.
I felt the Church pulling at my heartstrings even now,
strumming a melody that was beautiful & painful—
beautiful because of Elder Roberts,
because of all these people here,
welcoming me into their Church family,
but painful because I’d want so much to believe in it all,
& yet faith complete would always elude me.

When I was a little girl,
I saw a peach & purple seashell in the ocean,
whole & perfectly formed.
I’d tried to get to it before the waves came & stirred up the sand,
but just as my fingers had grazed it,
the tide had come & reclaimed it.
I never thought about all the other little treasures I’d captured that day—
I’d thought only of the one that had gotten away.

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.

He is

Rose

He is the Bread of Life,
impervious to mold.
He is the Living Water,
who needs no filter.
He is the Light of the World,
whose power comes not from the grid
but rather,
He is the power.
He is the Good Shepherd,
who gathers wool,
even as He is the Lamb of God.
He is the True Vine,
who grew not from Jack’s magic beans
but whose leaves are plentiful
& whose fruit is like honey,
for it spoils not.
He is the Bridegroom who will never stray.
He is a King, a Prince, a Servant,
a Carpenter, a Physician, a Philosopher,
for He transcends all.
He is the part of God
who humbled Himself
to connect with His people
& who laid down His life for His friends.
I am who I am—
not just because I believe in Him
but because those who came before me
believed in Him, too.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

It was always chess over checkers with us,
Clue & Scrabble over Life & Monopoly,
& I could see how our game choices
showed me what our life was—
a puzzle.

In Religion, righteousness trumped kindness;
in Spirituality, kindness trumped righteousness.
But in the world, they were granted Equality.

I chose the Church as I would some day
have to choose a mate.
I grabbed hold of the attributes I loved,
tolerating the ones I did not.
But how perfect could the Church be,
being made up of many men?

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

She had prayed every night
that God would give Caitlin
as long as she needed on this Earth
to accept the truth.
I knew in my heart that Caitlin
would never accept the Church as true,
& so, if God answered such prayers,
Caitlin would live forever.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Mother & David had once been young lovers.
They had walked at twilight on the beach,
went to plays & the symphony,
& then it became a convenience,
but that must have been when they didn’t know
if Patrick would live or die.
They had floated in a Purgatory of sorts—
his life, her life, their lives,
incongruously equal.

The glory of God was intelligence,
& such shone in David,
I’d thought him my own personal god—
a father without a daughter,
a son, raised by humble ones,
& a heavenly spirit who edified all
he came in contact with.

Mother would surely go to the celestial kingdom,
where she would be exalted & placed
on the path to eternal progression.
David would remain in the terrestrial kingdom—
in the presence of the Man
whose torn flesh & spilt blood
had saved us.
God had been the fundraiser,
but Jesus had ponied up the ransom.

Caitlin wept,
yet she had never known him.
Mother, who had known him intimately,
was stoic & had,
in her own way,
given birth to his grief.

I was like a ghost whisperer,
asking my father to accept the gospel in the next life
so that Mother would have to be sealed to him,
thus unsealing her from David.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

The foundation of our existence shook, the pillars & posts of transparency tumbled around me.  I picked up a brick, wanting to hurl it like a weapon, only to find that it had turned to sand.  

I knew it was required that she seek my forgiveness before God’s.  I also knew God would forgive whosoever He chose to forgive, but that I was required to forgive all. 

David’s money had kept my father alive, tethering my mother to the man who stood in their way, or rather, hovered between them.

My mother had lived a life of convenience, of self-flagellation by denying herself the sanctity of marriage but not of the marriage bed.  Just as she had wanted to do away with Caitlin, she was now going to do away with my father.

She had never annulled the marriage, for she could not make her children bastards as legitimate children were considered status symbols–just as Mother had chosen the label of widow over adulteress.

She’d convinced herself that because he was brain-dead, his soul had gone on, just as she’d taught her girls that unChristian women, to soothe their consciences, had convinced themselves that unborn babies were nothing but a clump of cells when wasn’t that what we all were–just many more of them.

I grieved for the father who had never been lost to me at all—the father I was just now finding, only to lose him all over again.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

He’d never read to me Mother Goose
or Dr. Seuss,
but the Dead Poets,
& the works of a particular student of his–
Marianne something–
who fancied herself a poetess.
We’d never seen puppets teaching shapes & colors
but musicals as bright as candy corn.

For our family tree was such that
if there were older generations left,
I could not see them through the leaves at the top—
where cobwebs had netted them together
through the shadows my mother had placed there.

The graven image of Moroni topped
Mormon temples like a wedding cake,
the interior of which were supposed to be like the
Celestial Kingdom of Heaven on Earth,
but my dream heaven was high on a mountaintop
where snowflakes fell in Spirograph-like creations,
or riding an elephant on a beach,
the sun at our backs,
or deep in the bayou under the Spanish moss
where the crawdads sang—
anywhere in nature,
where the words of the poets
were painted on the sky.

They all spoke on the Law of Chastity,
& you would think there was only one law to break
but to them,
breaking this law led to every other sin—
abortion, poverty, & eternal damnation.

The idea that God had once been
as we once were,
that He had been dust imbued
with the breath of life–
an inhabitant of another earth–
frightened me.
I wanted Him to have always been–
without beginning,
without end.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Children were like little Christs,
for every spirit child of God the Father
that was brought into the world
brought their parents
one little footstep closer to heaven.
It was one thing to accept the Mormon gospel
for oneself–
that was regular interest–
but to duplicate oneself through procreation–
that was compound interest.

Caitlin would’ve been fascinated by the seance–
she, who’d always wanted to witness an exorcism,
but this, this was religious fanaticism,
or what she would call crucifixation–
an obsession with Jesus & His gruesome death.

David never tended our gardens,
& so everything grew a bit wild—
like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Our careworn home showed signs of neglect,
but there was a regality about it
that said something about the owners—
like those who held onto the Old South
on crumbling plantations.

We had the newest television
but watched movies from 40 or more years ago.
David had the newest computer
but wrote most of his notes with a fountain pen
on an old desk.
We lived in the South
but on our walls were pictures of New England’s
covered bridges in the fall.
We were the essence of existing
beyond the constraints of time & space.

Caitlin was the dove,
& the rest of us were like crows,
feasting on each other.
All through school,
I’d avoided offers of friendship–
counting the hours
like I numbered the stars
till I would be home with David again.