The Sunday Poem: Erin Northern... Silent Sundays

Well, it's Sunday: church, a drive, dinner with the family. This wonderful piece captures the feeling of living out your Sundays in the midwest and then sorting everything out from a spot on the mighty mesas of New Mexico.

 

Albuquerque poet Erin Northern is the co-organizer and host of OUTSpoken, Albuquerque’s quarterly Queer Poetry Slam and Open-Mic. She is a current member of the 2011 Albuquerque Slam Poetry Team, was a featured poet at the 2011 Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, and was Albuquerque’s representative at the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam Championship in Detroit.

 

 

 

Silent Sundays

 

I live on a mesa where the
thunder sleeps,
the night wears a broad rimmed hat,
and there is always a story in the rain.

 

My grandmother,
she always quilted the best stories,
stitching drops of memories together
long after I had stopped listening.

 

But even when you don’t listen
the rain still
falls.

 

The night still turns,
tips its hat,
and pulls the heavy sky
over its shoulder.

 

On the mesa
dawn awakens,
but it is never
mistaken
for the lightening or
the gospel.
The Sundays
of my youth were.

 

They held
long drives through midwestern country,
my stomach churning
and nauseous
as the station wagon
peaked hill after rolling hill.
Sundays,

 

held
late afternoon lunches
fried chicken and greens
between the sermons
where the minister would foam
and spit from a red fiery swollen face.
Sundays,

 

held
early arguments
of assertiveness and
angst in a soft butch
wearing a flower print dress,
lacy socks,
and patent leather shoes.

 

Sunday was not a day for asking questions.

 

They just didn’t seem to fit.
Between the stiffness of stockings and pews
the only thing breathing,
between bible and hymnal
was the thick humidity.

 

Now, on the mesa
I no longer throw questions at God
like a football.
I speak my truth and
listen to the wrinkles
in my grandmother’s hands
as she taught me to roll out my faith
with a rolling pin,
a garden,
a table full of rainwater stories,
where others may kneel through the storm
because Sunday,
is never a day for asking.

 

 

 

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email theditchrider@gmail.com.

 

Views: 194

Comment by Margaret Randall on November 13, 2011 at 7:57am

Wow, Erin, this is some poem! I love the way you eek your own truth out of that suffocating religious constriction of your childhood. And I love the way you move us along your journey. Very strong. Thank you!

Comment by BARBARA BYERS on November 13, 2011 at 8:06am
I know exactly what you so well say in your poem. Sorry for us both. Thanks for your work in our world. May they stay away from us all.
Comment by Dee Cohen on November 13, 2011 at 10:31am

Hi Erin, Your poem is both touching and political. Hard to pull off. I love the description of the mesa and how it reflects your new found strength. So nice to appreciate your past while still be able to rise above it. Thanks, Dee

Comment by Don McIver on November 13, 2011 at 10:47am

Love it.

Especially like this line..."my grandmother’s hands
as she taught me to roll out my faith
with a rolling pin,"

Comment by Ben Moffett on November 13, 2011 at 11:34am

Excellent poem!  I agree with everything written above, especially the two points Dee mentioned. And may I add that the poem gains strength and clarity as it moves along.

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on November 13, 2011 at 12:50pm

I can see you inthis poem, young, awkward in a stiff scratchy dress, rolling pin later as a mother figure--lovely.  rock on sister

yes, polite yes, strong, yes, acknowledging

 

Comment by Poet Oishi on November 13, 2011 at 4:15pm

Why did I never know we had such parallel journeys? Beautifully written!

Comment by Erin Northern on November 20, 2011 at 4:45pm

Thank you to everyone for the feedback.  I appreciate it!

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