#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

No one from the LDS Church knew of the quickening of Patrick Nolan’s soul to the Spirit World.  It was the saddest, strangest day I had ever spent.

The funereal funeral was a secret affair.  No one knew Patrick Nolan had died—that Laurie Nolan had been living in mortal sin for 13 years.

Caitlin & I did as we were told, Caitlin, still grieving & I, taking no delight in what I had dreamt of for as long as my eyes had beheld the glory of David Dalton. 

In the B.C. era (before the Church), I had wanted Mother to marry David, but in this New Era, I realized 2 wrong people were trying to do the right thing.

The glories of the terrestrial & telestial heavens shined their pallid light upon us as David knocked on the pastor’s door, bearing redemption on the other side.

A baby grand sat in the corner of the room, the top of which sat a picture of Jesus.  For some reason, it made me think of a picture of a woman’s late husband.

Swiss clocks adorned the high walls, chiming ten, creating a clamor, signaling that the hour of reckoning had come.

To write one’s own vows was to promise more to one another than even God expected, & so it made sense that David & Mother had written their own.

We were to become a blended family, but our mixture would remain homogenous.

“David, when I think of you, I think of the guardian angel who came to us all those years before, bearing good tidings of great joy,” I said.

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Truth is its own magic: A Mother’s Day message

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When you’re a mom, some of the things that come out of your mouth may sound strange:  “Don’t chew on Jesus,” “Will you just hurry up and poop?”, and “Stop putting chicken on your head!”, are some of my greatest hits.

As I was getting my daughter ready for bed the other night, thinking about what I wanted to read to her (praying she wouldn’t mention Minnie, as in The Mouse), the Beatitudes of Jesus came to mind.  I realized then that I’ve spent so much time reading and singing to her and teaching her the things she will need to know to get on here–like letters and numbers, saying “thank you” and not littering–that I hadn’t focused much on the religious part of her education.

Thinking back, that’s exactly how my parents raised me.  For them, church was something you needed if you were an ass.

When I was in high school in the nineties, a lot of kids were self-proclaimed “Jesus freaks,” wearing “True Love Waits” rings and WWJD bracelets.  There was a lot of talk about the rapture and born-again virginity.  Church was their social life, Praise and Worship music their vibe.  Some of them even carried their Bibles around at school.  

Just as Felicity (remember that WB show?) followed a boy to college, I, a freshman, followed a senior boy to his church.  One evening, after service had ended, we sat in a pew as he led me through the salvation prayer, and I was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure? It’s that easy?”

I had been expecting a feeling–a total transformation like Saul’s to Paul–and now I wonder when Jesus told Doubting Thomas that (and I paraphrase) blessed are they who don’t see but believe, that “see” could also apply to “feel.”

Four years later, I joined the Mormon Church.  All the good feelings I had expected to feel when I had gotten saved, I felt then, but who isn’t going to feel good when they’re around so many friendly people who open their hearts and homes?  Even though it’s been years since I sent my name to Salt Lake to be expunged (er, removed) from the records, I will admit that the Church made me a more spiritual person.

In the Church, I was taught that the glory of God is intelligence and yet, according to these same people, for those who had mental challenges, the devil could not touch them. 

To my understanding, a lack of mental capacity (e.g. intelligence) saved a soul.  It seems contradictory, and yet, it somehow makes sense to me.

As I gaze upon my child, I see that light and intelligence.  She knows so much more than she communicates, which can be frustrating, but I have learned to overcome the need to explain why she is the way she is to people who don’t know her–to explain why she doesn’t respond when people ask her her name–but then, I have had several people who’ve taken one look at her and ask if she’s autistic.

I may never know how much she understands, but I do know that I will teach her everything I know and believe, whether it’s that adverbs are the enemy of good writing or that respect doesn’t have to be earned but it can be lost.  (You don’t disrespect people until they “earn” your respect.)

I’ve striven so much to give her a magical childhood through imagination and storytelling.  (Children’s author, Nancy Tillman, is a master at this.)  Nearly every night, since my mom passed from this earth, I ask my daughter to tell Grandma “good-night” and “I love you” and to blow her a kiss.  And then I seemingly catch that kiss in midair, letting her open my hand and take it; sometimes I place my palm on the crown of her head–a blessing from Heaven.

Of course, I don’t really know how things work up there, but part of parenting, for me, has always been teaching truths with just a pinch of magic.

C.S. Lewis did that very thing with his Narnia series, just as I will someday do with mine.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

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.

My mother had not charmed a snake, but rather, she’d beguiled an Eve in male form—a man who’d taken a bite of the apple that hadn’t given him knowledge, but rather, diminished it.

For the first time in my life, I prayed for my father to wake up & save Mother from David, so he would be saved for me.

A Church talk had freed my mother from the guilt she carried over my father’s attempted suicide, even as it would free my father from the medical technology that had kept him in limbo.

For neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, could separate David from Mother, save Mother herself.

Into my father’s ear, I whispered for him to accept the gospel in the next life, so that David would be dethroned as Mother’s eternal companion.

As my father was taken off life support, I wondered if his soul was finally leaving his body, having been imprisoned in 13 years of solitude.

I would learn that my mother had visited my father in the hospital until David had rescued her from a life of single motherhood & lonely widowhood.

Poem-a-Day November 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: One More (Blank)

Betty Slide 13

One More Memory

If I had just one more memory–
one more moment stretched into years
(with light years between the seconds)–
I would have so much to show-and-tell you.
Does that not sound like a little child?

Your presence
hovers
in the absence
of space and time
as you observe Hannah’s progression,
listen to my stories,
and see this, your daughter,
in the collegiate green cap and gown,
having remade herself into the ungraven image
she’s always wanted to be.

We share memories of you at the table;
I like to imagine you hear us
every time we speak your name.
We have no complaints.

Dad still carries your driver’s license in his wallet;
there are never enough pictures.
We say, “That’s a Mom joke!”
(when the joke is truly terrible)
or “Remember when Mom ..?”

Dad still calls you Mom;
I call you Grandma.
“Say ‘Good-night, Grandma,’”
I tell my daughter,
“blow her a kiss to heaven.”
It’s a kiss strong enough
to shatter
plaster
ceilings,
to defy
gravity.
I catch the one you send back
and plant it on her cheek.

We call you what our children call you.
You wanted Dad to call you Betty more.
Your mother always called you Betty Ann.
You liked the names Carolyn and Elise.
You dug up the roots of the family tree
to give me mine.

She is…she was…
it is just “Grandpa’s house” now,
but the contact still reads “Mom and Dad’s”
in my phone.
I will never change it.

We remember your goulash–
the only thing you knew how to make–
even though we weren’t even Hungarian.
Still aren’t.

We just are.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-30

#Micropoetry Monday: Social Media

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She was one vacation picture away from losing her job,
he, one tweet away from losing his career,
& so they chose to be judged by their actions
rather than their thoughts.

She scrolled down her friend list,
unfriending those she had never known,
but who had been watching her life more than she ever knew.

It took a body hours to die in Earth space,
but years to die in cyberspace,
for families kept the social media accounts
of their loved ones alive,
hoping one of their messages would reach
Heaven.

Her son’s Facebook page–
deactivated after his death by his wife–
was like an erasure of the man she had loved
longer than his wife ever would.

They each lived a double life,
sharing a secondary one.
They each had a spouse,
who knew not what their other half did,
for their lovemaking
was merely the tapping of keys.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Whittier Cemetery had become our temple, where we talked to the dead rather than baptized them—where we paid penance for sins unknown.

I had spent more hours in a cemetery than most had their entire lives—not to find comfort or closure, but to pay tribute to a marble idol.

On Sundays, while Christians fellowshipped in dialogue amongst the living, we spent our time among the dead, speaking to them in monologue.

I often wondered if the neighbors ever looked out their windows & talked about “the Nolan women” attending Cemetery as one would Church.

“You had Mother first, Patrick. Let David have her last,” I prayed to my father, who, according to the elders, was awaiting baptism by proxy.

Perhaps it was because Caitlin had never laid eyes on our father that he could be as wonderful in her mind as she could possibly imagine.

My father, who lay below the earth, was as much a stranger to me as the Father who lived above it.

Walking amongst the dead, holding my rose in front of me like a candle, I thought how ritualistic—how almost cult-like—it all seemed.

Mother walked beside the vines that crawled up the back fence of the cemetery—the berries like the pomegranate seeds of the underworld.

“I felt what they were saying was good, but I don’t believe the good feeling was you there with me because it was something inside I felt.”

Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #20. Theme: Use at least 3 of these 6 words…

…relent, horrendous, artifact, lagoon, wobble, and plunder.

The Burial Underground

Twined with rusting links resembling
tarnished jewelry,
wrapped like a mummy in white sheets,
like a goddess of ancient Greece,
a woman resides in the Lochness Lagoon—
an artifact of a domestic goddess
who identified with being a mermaid.
Her legs are tied together,
even as her hands reach upward,
unbound by wood or satin,
or the complexities of life.

In life, he imprisoned her;
in death, he set her free,
for there is no grave with his name on it
attached to hers.
She is free to remain alive in the hearts
of those who still love her above.

The water plunders her flesh,
even as it preserves her bones,
in this twilight zone
known as Davy Jones’s Locker.