My mother, my sister, my father requested it.
Two hours, thirty minutes of asphalt measured in
cornfields, pine trees, a grey sky of sheet rain,
and great black birds out for a morning kill.
I held a talisman—a stone.
Smooth, black, small,
soaked in moon-water,
woven with mirrors for invisibility.
I don’t believe in magic,
but I believe in memory.
I sat through three hours and thirty minutes of sermons
holding memories of ripe larval mulberry trees
reminding myself I’m not alone, that somewhere
horses are eating watermelons, there’s fresh parmesan on the table,
and pheasants are rummaging in the fields.
Amidst calls for total submission before God,
I believed I was safe (not saved) sitting in a hallowed circle of trees
green light under the leaves, strawberries soaking in white wine.
Ephesians 6, Paul wrote to put on the whole armor of God.
I did not trust the King’s armor. It was too heavy.
I held a stone—a weapon.
A talisman of protection.
Like David before Goliath,
I put away God’s sword
and said, “I cannot go with these.
I have not proved them.”
A strange thing happened.
Thus armed, I stood.
I found my faith:
God is a creator,
I am a creator.
We are equal.
I was able to bear without bitterness, without fear
their hymns of worship, their words of prostration,
their preaching that humans are puppies, babies, sheep,
grape vines, fishers, hapless, helpless, mortal, unwashed,
blood-bought, judged, distracted, destructive. I held a talisman
And remembered myself. I could see us clearly.
Armed and hidden, I saw their countenance and realized
the limits of their tolerance, its reasons and its origins.
Whatever they will have against me, it is not because of me.
It will be as bewildering for them as it has been for me.
I held a weapon—a blade.
I cut off the giant’s head.
I freed myself of fear.
I was not a hunted animal.
I was master of myself.
My kill was clean and honorable.
They are good people. Well-intentioned. Sincere, honest.
They are humans trying to be saints. Sainthood makes me suffocate.
They offer everything as sacrifice, for the glory of God.
They are thankful, loving, kind, saintly. Sainthood makes them forget.
I sat amongst them. I held a memory and remembered who I am.
I am human.
Neither saint nor sinner,
neither holy nor hell-bound.
My crimes are in creation.
I write my own salvation.
I held a stone—a story:
Jesus went to New York City. And early in the morning
he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him;
and he sat down, and talked with them. And the saints and priests
brought unto him a person taken in homosexuality;
and when they set hir in the midst, they said unto him, Lord,
this sinner was taken in homosexuality, in the very act.
Now God in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned:
but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might accuse him.
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground,
as though he had heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,
Those that are not human among you, let them first cast a stone.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
I went to church for the first time in months.
Three hours, thirty minutes measured in
memory, the confidence of my convictions.
Fingers tracing the writing on the ground,
holding a stone, touching a story.
My crimes are in creation. I write my own salvation.
Where are those thine accusers?
hath no one condemned thee?
I held a stone.
Neither do I condemn thee:
Go, and fear no more.