Crossing Myself In Temple
Poem By Rachel Dacus
Torah scrolls on their mahogany spindles
mesmerize me, as does the Dove and Latin
chanting, neat as our gardener’s pruning, but
parents say, Choose one.
Crossing myself in front of the rabbi makes
Dad spit-mad. Sheila taught me, but now
calls me a Christ-killer. My best friend crosses.
Kissing, she blames me.
In our temple, the purses snap shut, hoarding
ancient dark, but a pillar of fire in Point
Fermin’s searchlight, roaming the foggy coast
speaks to me nightly.
Men at the rail toss tuna over their heads.
Space engineers and Japanese farmers hoe
furrows in sky or kale but cannot agree
on a Deity.
In America, you can make your own faith.
I’m mud-mixing mine from their discards and nubs,
kneeling over artifacts: seed, stone, ice plant,
purse seiners, loquats—
Those fruits that open faster than holy books.
Their mahogany pits are shaped like beating
hearts, living sculptures, light-spilling chalices,
oceans in rhythm.