Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

Leann was Snow White,
the fairest of the least;
Kath was a black beauty
in love with a beast,
& I,
Princess Aurora,
who was only now waking up
from what had once been
a charming, princely dream.

Brad was joining the Catholic priesthood,
which would take him away from me,
even as the Mormon priesthood would prepare
Elder Roberts for me.

Tony wanted me for his wife,
Kath for his lover,
& their baby for our very own.
She would keep his heart,
& I would keep my soul.

My mother lived in sin,
even as I lived with it.
She was but one covenant
away from hell,
& I,
one man’s touch away
from heaven.

Leann was the pretty one,
Kath, the black one,
& I, the pure one.
I would be the changeling
of our feminine triad—
the last light on a match.

Katryn

For this challenge, I decided to write a poem based on the protagonist in my book.  This story has, in part, been told through the lenses of poetry and short story.  Perhaps, one day, it may even be the inspiration for a song (as long as I get a royalty deal, a la “Mr. Wonderful”).  Since Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature, music lyrics are considered as such now (according to my English Composition II professor).  Though this poem is a stand-alone work, the query letter below it will add context.

Katryn

Her face and figure were such
that they blended into the backdrop
of the Deep South like white-lily camouflage,
but when she spoke her mind,
she found her way into the crawl space
of their hearts.
Like a thorn,
she would prick those hearts,
this Queen of the least of these,
placing them in a waking sleep—
unlike that of Princess Aurora’s—
her words echoing
in their chambers.

~

My debut novel, “Because of Mindy Wiley”, begins at what Katryn Nolan refers to as the summer of her Mormon soldier. 

Katryn is a teen when she falls in love with a Mormon missionary, which leads to her joining the LDS Church—and enters an insular world of peculiar people.  It is within the Church that Katryn finally experiences belonging outside her close-knit family, and yet it will be her mother’s involvement in it that will lead to its destruction.

Born into a well-bred, artistic family, the Nolans (and the man David, with whom Katryn’s mother is attached) are considered outsiders in their small Southern town, where few move out, but fewer move in; where the heat and humidity is like another force of gravity, where the air is as thick as the azaleas that burst into bloom every spring, and where time seems to pass just a little bit slower.

Yet never does Katryn question why her mother and stepfather chose this enclave that is as foreign to them all as the Mormon Church.

Overloved by her stepfather, but underloved by her mother, Katryn never grasps why her mother won’t marry the man she has idolized ever since he came into their lives.

Neither does she question why her father was barred from being buried in the Catholic cemetery, though it seems no one in the town remembers him.  Who is the mysterious couple that Katryn and her stepfather see, that Katryn’s mother must never know of?  And why does her mother, who was a concert pianist, never touch it anymore? 

Never, does Katryn question anything, for life is idyllic in Green Haven, despite their outsider status.  It is only after her mother joins the Church that she begins to change, and long buried family secrets begin to come to light, ripping off the shimmering facade that was the Nolan family.  Blinded by years of fanciful storytelling, Katryn must sort through the mystery that surrounds her life, to know who she can trust…and who would do her harm.

My love for crafting stories on paper rather than with paper dolls began as soon as I learned to write.  Cutting up every paper in the house had served as my creative outlet before then.  I have lived in Pensacola, Florida, almost all my life, where churches outnumber bars, where the air is as thick as molasses in January, and where the summer weather is as volatile as the preachers of the Pentecostal meetinghouses–much like the town of Green Haven in my book.

Having grown up in a Southern town situated in the buckle of the Bible belt, and having been a practicing member of the Mormon Church for several years, has given me great insight, knowledge and experience of what it’s like being a convert to a religion in a region that is somewhat intolerant to that religion.  Having grown up Protestant, but with no inclination to go around declaring myself saved, one could say I was an outsider even on the inside looking out, much like Katryn Nolan.

The completed manuscript is available upon request.  Thank you for your generous time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cordially,
Sarah Lea Richards

The Stain of Inhumanity

Though her sheets had been as white as snow,
they were stained with the scarlet sins
of Dr. Krueger—
with the sins of the donor fathers,
who had never looked upon their Sleeping Beauty.

Asleep, she proved her usefulness,
for such was greater than her wakefulness—
her unwillingness—
to collaborate with the devil M.D.—
to create a master set of keys
that would unlock the world powers.

Her empty vessel was filled
with clumps of cells that would grow to form
a single function—
like little Romes, or rather, Dresdens—
each unique,
and carefully selected;
each conception immaculate,
even sterile.
She was the garden from which his
little flowers would grow—
a bridge to the sun.

Violations by dozens of men,
all the way from Denmark,
are imprinted on her memory,
the results of each planting,
another loss of autonomy.
She has no voice but Sister Augustine’s,
whose powers are limited on this earth.

Her body is not her own,
for it was bought with a price.
Dr. Krueger was her savior,
even as he is her imprisoner,
having harvested her from the trash
that was her family—
the plot of an evil stepmother
with a rotten apple.

Stockholm Syndrome, they call it,
for he preserves her life,
even as he denies it to her.
The news of the world beyond her windows
filters in secondhand
through this haze of semi-consciousness.
She cannot make sense of it all.

This incapacitated princess cannot love them all,
any more than the princes of Scandinavia,
can love their all.
Through not one,
but many like her,
will spring up kingdoms and principalities—
light in color,
but dark in intent and purpose.

“You will be a queen,” he says,
her throne a hospital bed,
her crown a tangled mass of hair
the color of golden raisins,
her glass slipper a yellow sock with a
puffed smiley face on the bottom.

A plastic bracelet has her name,
but she has forgotten it now,
for it’s been so long since she’s heard it.
She is simply, Another Eve,
and sometimes Mother Mary,
who was overcome with a mysterious entity
called the Holy Ghost;
or was that Ghost,
that vapor,
simply a doctor with a needle
that put the Virgin to sleep?