Friday, June 25, 2010

Poem: "Further Arguments" -- Nonbelievers, sisters

I dedicated "Further Arguments" to one of my sisters, a nonbeliever to her core.

She was a good mother to my niece and nephew and though she considered retiring in the Southwest, didn't because, "I don't want to miss out on E- and E- [her grandchildren]. They're too much fun." Friends, financial security--or as much as anyone not wealthy has--she led a good life.

Given our fanatical Christian Science childhood--Mom was a convert, and you know the fervor of converts--with tones, jokes and intellectualizations of our secular Jewish father--any spiritual closeness or abhorance makes sense although the other three daughters found "spiritual paths."

I'm a mystic (bold of me to say, but there it is) (more to it, but I'll leave it there for now). My only complaint in this regard with my sister was her antagonism toward belief. You could not say a word to her about anything remotely related to spirituality, let alone cast your eye upward before digging into a good meal without a sharp remand.

But sharp and quick criticisms generally mean a deep nerve has been struck; a childhood memory is unhealed. The four daughters had plenty of them.

My sister died far too young, of cancer. She went through four years of chemotherapy. To the end she held hard to her nonbelief; foolish or brave; definitely honest. After she passed I went to Gilda's Place for grief support. On hearing the above, a counselor said, "Well, now she knows for sure." Here's the poem (not written with her in mind but dedicated to her).

Further Arguments

If there is a god you must sculpt my bellied likeness then
bury me so dirt chokes my cry.
If there is a god you must bruise me with your broad hand,
the one with the Rolex.
If there is a god, you must snap my bones and giggle.
If there is a god, you must punch my womb and admire
my body’s pliancy.
If there is a god you must plunge me to a watery death,
as an argument rivaling Aquinas’ that there is a god.
If there is a god you must burn me, millions of me,
and warm to the frisky stench.
If there is a god, pray gratitude you were not born me,
and who will blame you?
You are reading this, you are not reading this. There is
a god.
You are listening, you are disinterested. There is a god.
You feel shame, or none. There is a god.
I am four hundred dead in the desert yet there is a god.
My children are target-rage and yet there is a god.
I am laughed at and condescended to and there is a god
there is, trust me.
I took the leap of faith over your life, proving there is
a god.
We are kneeling on our hearts agreeing this thing in each
of us is what I am calling god.

Published in The Minnesota Review [Spring 2007] and in The Future Is Happy [available at Amazon; SPD is restocking the collection].

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