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Contrition

Poetry & Prose | October 29, 2018

“Man is what he eats.”

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach

 

The man who taught me my scriptures leans over the

Table, asks are you challenging yourself spiritually?

I explain to him that these days my faith

Is not so much how I undress the day, but more

How I pick up the clothes.

My faith barges in when I am sapped and sweating,

Falling into Mother Mary’s wrinkled lapful of taffeta –

Asking her for a glass of water, forgiveness, a deal.

When disaster strikes, I find myself kneading rosary beads.

I watch my thumb gulp the little red pearls

With each Amen. What is my church if not fear,

If not the shadow of life’s great wrecks?

Maybe I don’t believe in G-d, but is it enough that I believe

In the devil and his scorching bucket of worms?

I ask my teacher what if it’s all fake? What if we die with no heaven,

And we’ve spent all this time in confession?

And he answers me, Jessica, read yourself into

The faith so that for you it must be true. Make it true.

That is to say, G-d is as much a decision as He is everywhere.

If only I knew it was my choice to not choose,

It was me who could curdle or consecrate the holy water,

Sweet talk the powdered wine into blood.

I could point out the grease stains on the priest’s cream colored sash,

Rip heaven to shreds with my teeth.

All along, my faith could both bring Christ to life and swallow him whole –

Just think of all the gods I could create on my knees.