Holy Ground

Your anger, mother,
is as quiet as your hands
folded mutely in your lap at church,

hands which, not unlike your anger,
will not fidget or move a muscle
to do this that or the other,
whether good or evil.

What’s the matter, mother, that you can’t stir yourself
from suburban apathy
long enough to rage,
to break all my bones (oh I’ve got a bone to pick with you too!);

can’t rouse yourself
from your greed induced stupor
long enough to knock that grin off my face
to knock me into next week or,
as promised, beat me till I can’t sit down for a week?

In your pew you never miss a beat—-
a bent knee, closed eyes
lowered head, humble mumble,
on-key singing—-never miss the slightest outward form
of dignified rectitude
while at home you are blinded to
my hunchedback walk,
and my inability to make eye contact.

Oh mother, it’s not your puckered brow
which worries me so,
but your sour puckered soul,
spit-shined once a week,
dressed in smart garb
to match the solemn decor of our church:

muted colors in tasteful undertones,
non-offensive like your anger,
the anger which no one sees but me,
and I’m not even trying;

I’m staring at your heels
as we leave the sanctuary.
I blink at the incongruity
of their keen clickety-clack
on cemented walk.

Take off your shoes, mother.
The ground on which you’re standing is holy ground.

“He who is not angry when he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience
is the hotbed of many vices.” (Chrysostom)


One thought on “Holy Ground

  1. Quite powerful.
    Appearances mean everything to a family with secrets. Your family and mine had many appearances/secrets to protect.
    I like the way you used her folded hands to illustrate apathy. The lack of action is often the offense (straw) that brakes the camels back. When someone knows what’s happening and they do nothing about it yet pretend to be high and mighty it makes the core of your being sick.


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