“The body, sluggish, aged, cold–the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;”
-Walt Whitman, “Continuities”
When I told my mother I did not believe in her Christian God,
that I wasn’t going to make it to Church on Sunday,
it was her birthday, and I didn’t see the question coming
but I coulda swore I did see her smile tear off her lips like
communion bread ripping the body of Christ
crippled, the body of Christ compelling nothing but
I was already drunk, and what wasn’t angel
wings had already lifted my heavy head,
and what wasn’t singing sang to me anyways,
and what was tequila struck receptors
most unready for truths like these,
with my mother who built me,
questioning how God has left
her building, her neck,
creaking and heaven-bent.
My mother, she keeps a smile for situations
like this. Conversations like this. Confessions
like this. The one with her sons questioning
her God until she is at odds with her own maker,
her own making. Her brow, a wrinkled sunday blouse
ironed by a question I expect she is afraid to ask,
but asks anyways,
“Where do you think you go when you die?
What do you think happens?”
I look at my body, and realize now she is
concerned with the owner’s spiritual aftermath.
And I’m thinking she wants to talk about the soul,
refer to the manual,
heaven, hell or who knows so instead what I said was
“I don’t know where I go, but I hope it is beautiful”
and she didn’t say anything, the silence
stretched seconds longer than
Sunday sermons, but what was she supposed to say?
What was I supposed to say?
Sorry, dunno Mom. Guess I’ll just waste.
Perhaps my soul sketches itself into
some other waiting skeleton.
Suppose I’ll stay in the earth until something wakes me up.
You know when you’re exhausted beyond tired
your body lifts into a dozed off dove
repairing its wings by forgetting
the ground, maybe it’s a bit like that.
I think I’d like the soil, with all its stories.
Don’t Mexican men always have the dirtiest hands,
anyways? How many Mexican men and women
have dug their fingers into the ground,
and made a harvest happen?
How am I different?
You know the Aztecs believed life did not end at death?
That’s why their deaths were so brutal,
because farewell doesn’t always have to mean
we are finished, it simply means
forever is the only thing a fire is fixed to
so we become stories told next to them,
regenerated in the retelling,
ritual promotes rebirth,
so why can’t I celebrate
myself until I am a Church?
If I cut my heart open
and ask for love to aggregate
isn’t that the same
as an offering plate?
I don’t always pray but
I write mostly every day.
Is that so wrong?
Yes, Christ was a good man
but I am too, Mom.