February 10, 2015

Hannah Faith Notess

WATER UNDER WORLD

That river had me marked
as soon as I drifted underground.

I palmed the coins from my eyes
and leapt from the raft into dark water

as cat-eyed goddesses watched me,
whirring their displeasure. From fog

a young god emerged and gathered me
against his body, dripping, onto the bank.

Of course I worshipped him. Of course
I should begin again. Eighth grade:

I wanted a shirtless lifeguard
at the waterpark to see me, so I leapt

from the flotilla of plastic innertubes
into the waist-deep canal, where spotlit

mummies craned animatronic necks.
He came. He rustled, furious,

from a plastic hedge and banned
me from the Lost River

of the Pharaohs for life. No Nile.
No Underworld. Cast out,

sunburned, that night I drifted,
thought of diving, as the waves kept

rocking me, like hands
on my shoulders. Now I could die

because a boy had held me and
his anger made him warm.

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

[download audio]

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Hannah Faith Notess: “I’m a post-evangelical Christian who landed in the peace church (Mennonite) tradition. I take pleasure in the intersection of religious language and regular language on the page. If faith is ‘the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1), then being a person of faith means I’m always trying to figure out what it means to live in two worlds—this world and some unseen world, whatever it looks like. For instance, a cheesy waterpark ride could become a gateway to the underworld.” (website)

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