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Yvonne Pearson



The preacher stands in the pulpit of the dark 

arched church and reads from the King James Bible,

but she stops before she reaches the passage.


And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing.  Behold, here are my virgin daughter and [my guest's] concubine; let me bring them out now.  Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.

 Judges, Chapter 19



But why? Why does she stop reading? 

Must we forget this history, erase the memories? 

If we speak clearly of the virgin daughter offered up, 


of the concubines cast off, will the exposed 

plutonium of the memory sicken our bones?

A baby girl has unfurled like a flower


inside my womb. What shall I tell her? 

That I remember the veteran talking 

of the Cambodian women whose breasts 


were as beautiful as the flesh of young melons? 

They cost so little there, he said. That I remember

the girls surrounded by a group of basketball players


who taunted them, pulled their clothes off, left them 

in the field naked. The judge who raped the young 

woman, said she teased him with her body. Remember


the rapes in Iraq, inherited from the master in Judges.

The plunders and peeks and pressured pecks, the acts 

of generals and presidents and priests, inherited 


from the gods of our fathers. A raft of sunshine

buoys up the body of Jesus hung behind the pulpit,

and I am suddenly in our church of knotty pine, hand-


built by men so long ago, in our country church, 

pale pine shined by the love of a god and angels, 

the love of aunts and uncles. I remember


the stories: Eve made from her husband’s body, Lot’s wife

turned to salt, wives should submit in everything 

to their husbands, how we were given to know


that woman was made for man. Remember

Sunday afternoons how the sun beat down 

on Sunday ballgames, summer picnics, on the uncle 


who slid his fingers beneath our shirts, how later 

the cool air licked our tender bodies, fresh from baths, 

when the towels were whipped away by other uncles. 


Memory piles on memory, compressed in a buried core. 

If we remember, if we speak of it, will anger tear open

flesh, will we begin to see only pulsing towers, exploding tops, 


popping hot little bombs under the sheets, deceptive missiles, 

gluttonous missiles. When we see, will we become fists? 

If we let the plutonium core of our memories surface, 


will we become the bomb itself? Fire cleans forest and field, 

makes a fertile world where flowers can unfurl. If

we expose the core to oxygen, will it burn the dross,


leave us clean and empty? Perhaps this 

is where we look to a different god for salvation. 

Anger buried in our bodies seals us alone. Let us 


open ourselves, walk through the fire, for

god cannot live as a broken bit shut inside us.

We must look in the interstices, in the cracks,


in the small narrow spaces between us. 

God needs mingling. God is the medium, 

the placenta where we exchange heat, god is


the skin surrounding the egg

the slippery inside of a cheek

the film found on frothing water

the slick surface of the tongue


We must know god with our bodies,

in the cell working its chemical magic,

in the retina that recognizes light,

in the breath that transpires

between and among us,

through the porous skin, 

in the breast and the bone 

and the gristle given gladly 

to one another.


I walk back out through the grand doors 

of this dark arched church into Sunday 

sun shining on multiple flowers. 


I will 

give my daughter 

a place of touching, joining.


I will give

my daughter 

a different kind of god. 



Waiting For Test Results

Last time, I lost my mind.


I found it sitting in a pine tree outside 

my bedroom. It took a long time 

        to call it back inside.


It’s not so tough this time.

     I’m older. 


I’m not so scared of dying         




The magnolia is loaded with purple hands,

billowed bowls. 


They would make beautiful urns. 


More nouns 

                    are lost 

      every day. 


There are days I long to live 

                                           inside a magnolia blossom.


I’m not going to lose my mind this time.


Reality is in constant motion. 

I didn’t know that before.

Jim Zola 675DC4F9-2C15-4B6C-B6DA-57E28D416349.jpeg
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