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by Alinda Wasner

Though she said she did not
believe most of it, my grandmother
knelt beside me in St. Anselm's every Sunday,
tickling my arm with the lace
on her handkerchief, the one
with nickels knotted into the corner
so I would have something
to put into the offering plate.

I don't know when I first
noticed that some of the stained
glass windows were worse
than my nightmares,
or when I first understood
that the story of King Solomon
and the two mothers
wasn't quite right.

But Grandmother said not to worry,
that the day they drove
all the way from the U.P.
to the Wayne County Courthouse
through a hundred-year flood
to get me, praying they wouldn't
be late, even the angels
must have been nervous.

Still, my adoptive mom
refused to discuss it,
and even though my dad
liked to tell how he
warmed me inside his shirt
all the way back home
because he loved me
at first sight,
I kept seeing that moon,
swollen, on the horizon
That had been their guiding light.

For years, whenever the aunts
whispered in the kitchen
or my grandfather
whistled the sad tunes
he said he could never
remember the words to –
Whenever Father Montcalm

Got to the part about Abraham and Sarah,
I knew that my mom
longed for miracles,
believing that if only she
prayed hard enough
God would undo
what an Ohio doctor
had done to her
when she was a girl
because he was too drunk
to identify her appendix.

And, like my mom,
I wanted to believe
there was a chapter in the Bible
we hadn't heard yet,
one which said it would be
perfectly natural
to want to hack Lana Seminski's
tongue in half
for telling me what no one
had wanted me to know
in the first place –
that somewhere there was a God
who could take two halves of a baby
and put it together so
everything would be perfect.

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