March 2, 2015

Laurie Uttich

SOMETIMES PETER, BUT NEVER PAUL

It’s ridiculous to still believe in God:
to say the word Divine and feel it blush
purple in that place where you still wake at night.
But there it is, its hand heavy on your head.

To say the word Divine and feel it blush
on your tongue, a woman much too old to believe:
but there it is, its hand heavy on your head.
Prayers rise in the dark, ghosts of those you love

on your tongue. A woman much too old to believe,
but still you call the names of saints you knew.
Prayers rise in the dark, ghosts of those you love.
Mary, Teresa, sometimes Peter, but never Paul …

you still call the names of saints you knew.
And sometimes when you do, your grief grows gills.
Mary, Teresa, sometimes Peter, but never Paul:
there’s no sense to any of it at all.

But sometimes when you do, your grief grows gills
and purples that place where you still wake at night.
There’s no sense to any of it at all.
It’s ridiculous to still believe in God.

from Rattle #45, Fall 2014
Tribute to Poets of Faith

[download audio]

__________

Laurie Uttich: “Every week, I sit on a hard pew and I say the words I learned as child, many of those words spoken first by Jesus … a teacher, a healer, an activist, and, for me, a savior. I believe in activism. I believe in living as Jesus taught: feed the poor, house the homeless, care for the imprisoned, speak for the marginalized. I believe Jesus wouldn’t ask for immigration papers or drug tests or care if two men loved each other; and I’m often troubled by the label ‘Christian’ and the way it has come to mean intolerance and, sometimes, hate. I am also weak and worry at times what others think of me—my smart, cynical friends who find my beliefs to be at best ‘quirky,’ and, at worst, a construct I’ve created to feel better … something I should have outgrown by now, especially as an ‘academic.’ So, while I may at times stay silent—as guilty and ashamed as Peter who denied Christ three times—I am a Christian and, hopefully, a bit of a poet. It’s more difficult to communicate how my faith affects my poetry. It shows up unexpectedly, and it’s not always welcome. I once wrote an essay about what it means to be a writer and I realized that as a child I found God on a white sheet of paper. It would not have occurred to me to leave it blank. On good days, it still doesn’t.” (website)

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