SELF PORTRAIT AS NAOMI

Ruth 1:20


Don’t call me sister. Don’t say grace for choice or love when you mean

pleasant. Instead call me dyke. Name the bank you’ve built between us. Call  

me bitter for calling you out with my tongue of endive and flame. 

God has made beetles, bats, and bisexual bonobos. You have made


life so bitter behind the bars of your holy zoo. Take, eat. Do this 

for me. I spread a sheet with creatures wild in their want. Say you

went away full, queasy with questions of what is natural.

But God has called it good. So yes, I pray with sticky hands—they


brought me home praising the god of my clit, my vagina blessedly

empty. Why call this death? This petit mort, from which I rise, saved

me. Pleasant as a garden of snakes before one rotten apple,

I grieve and curse this forced fork in my mouth, its false dichotomy. 


God has set all bodies in motion. I move in mine without shame,

a heaviness I once mistook for holiness. No, this is not

on me. I won’t lay on this stone for those who once called me kin.

 

Erica Charis-Molling

is a lesbian poet, educator, and librarian. Her writing has been published in literary journals including Tinderbox, Redivider, Glass, Vinyl, and Entropy. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Orison anthology. A Mass Cultural Council Fellow, she's an alum of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is currently working her first book-length collection focusing on themes of queerness, church, and belonging using biblical text & characters, exclusionary church documents, and semi-autobiographical detail from her experiences with conversion therapy. She currently lives in Boston with her wife and works as Education Director for Mass Poetry.

 
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