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Sundays in September

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Mamma said Sunday was God’s day
And because God liked crisp linen lines and sacrifice,
I had to wear an ill-fitting hand-me-down skirt from a cousin I’d never met
And remember that the maroon liquid fermenting in that tacky goblet was not grape juice.

Mamma said September was God’s month
And because God liked the smell of brittle maple leaves sashaying across concrete alleyways
And how the boys wiped their wrists across swollen lips to tighten their ties with steady fingertips,
I had to walk to the white-washed wooden church on the corner of Lincoln and Nickel,
Careful not to step on the sidewalk cracks
(Didn’t want to break a mongoose back).

Mamma said Church was God’s house
And because God liked the sound of little girls’ lollypop breath as they murmured the ancient hymns that
Chimed like an angel’s footprint against lilac leaves painted with the teeth of first frost,
I had to clamp the tattered Bible with a green cover and a purple stain on the Psalm 23 Close to my chest like it was the only thing keeping me afloat in the bitter sea of sin.

Mamma said God would never leave me
And because I believed in Her like a blind man believes in darkness,
I let go of her hand.

–And then she let go of mine.

God says the stars are my mother’s dreams
And because my mother believed that stars were not really stars at all,
But the dawn bleeding through holes in the night gnawed away by silver caterpillar lips,
I forgave Him.



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