Testimonies

I am just a girl from Virginia. I don’t know much.

I learned runes and hieroglyphs and wanted

to be a philologist, I told the first girl

I ever slept with. In church, I wrote every word

I could remember from Alpha to Omega.

We were forbidden from going to prom together.

The English teacher crossed our names off the list.

My name was erased from its original birth certificate.

In its place was typed another. It’s called adoption.

My Daddy I was born to became a name, Woody.

He was thrown out of the pulpit: hypocrites,

Brood of vipers! His sermons were not well received.

We sang this hymn at twelve: “Power in the Blood,”

Giggling hysterically. My sins went down with Christ

Under red, blue, and white spotlights: the Blood,

The Death, the Resurrection. The hair dryers screamed

Like seraphim and cherubim in the girls’ bathroom.

Could you see my nipples through my wet, white gown?

Could you see any blood on me? Daddy had transfigured

From me while I was still in patent shoes with a plastic

Orange bowl on my head for a hat. Words are inconsolable.

My memory smells of Noxzema. When we left him behind,

He became a name, a-men, a name, say it again.

–The Bride Minaret, University of Akron Press