What I Meant to Say

Wendy Babiak's Visions and Revisions

Juvenilia: Evidence


My daughter, who is 13, when she believes in God at all, is usually angry at Him. (I’d say Her, but usually her anger is directed at a Patriarch, so Him fits.) She’ll say, for example, about the fact that my father died on the morning of my first wedding anniversary, “Yeah, nice timing, God.” And I was thinking about this recently, and remembered this old poem, included in my college’s literary magazine from my junior year, which is evidence not only that I can sympathize with her anger (though it no longer holds me in its sway), but also that I used to use commas at the end of lines.

The Scavengers

Someday, when I am nothing but old bones —

my hip, like a dinosaur’s thigh, jutting

from a boulder, my shoulder left alone

among rubble, rocks, my teeth cutting

nothing but mold, and all these bones

whitened by ages of suns and waters running,

when my last bleached bone is beached

on some ancient shore, and every core

and solid place has been bored and breached

by a gluttonous worm

 the gods will want more.

And I will offer up my old bones, saying

Take this, all of you, and eat–there is no more.

But those damned insistent deities will say

“Quit playing! We’ve watched you for a thousand

years as you took your time (such sloth!) decaying.

We’ve watched your flesh rot, eyes, tongue,

ears, all your atoms danced away to feed

the ever hungry universe, yet we fear

you’ve held something back we desperately need.”

Ah, I’ll say, you must mean my heart.

So you, in all your eternal greed,

miss that little thing? I kept it from

the start preserved in hate and disillusion

in hopes that you would spare me that one part

left me in this nothing. Pardon my confusion.

Take it, then. Take it, my last Communion;

though it’s bitter, and heavy, and smooth

as a stone. Eat it, take a bite, break a tooth.

Author: Wendy Babiak

Poet, permaculturalist, lay Carmelite. Pretty sure the world needs more love and less politics.

4 thoughts on “Juvenilia: Evidence

  1. Misprint, 2nd to last line. [But commas can go anyplace they like.]

    Good kvetch. [Glad you didn’t let your face get stuck that way.]

  2. Thanks for catching that! I typed this up on the way out the door. And I just don’t use commas at the end of a line anymore because so many of my lines would end in them that I found the right margin ending up looking cluttered, and I figure the line break gives enough of a pause not to be worth it.

    And yeah, I’m really glad my face didn’t get stuck that way, too. Though it took a few years completely denying a personal God’s existence in order to get over myself. We’re all on our own journey, right?

    • That last sentence is ambiguous.

      1) Each of us is on its separate journey
      2) We are all together on our one journey.

      “Get over myself”?

      – – – – – – – –
      It’s always the young
      who try to forgive God
      or vow undying indignation;

      I try to understand
      and wonder if I’ve lived
      to over-ripen.

      A fly tries to tell me something
      I don’t want to listen to

      while I remember, without nostalgia
      days I had the faith
      to curse God.

      I’ve decided to live with myself.
      thank You for the peanut butter!

      [me ~1985]

      • Funny. I think that dichotomy only exists in our heads, the individual journey vs. the one journey. From one perspective, we’re each on our own journey, and we ought not to judge others re: their personal situation. At the same time, yes, there’s no separation, in reality. And get over myself, meaning the hubris of imagining that there is no higher power than my little human ego.

        I like the poem! I think I’ll go make a peanut-butter sandwich.

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