About the Writer
Michelle Askin lives and works in the Washington DC area. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in SAND, Willard & Maple, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Verdad, 1947, The Sierra Nevada Review, and elsewhere.
For The Evangelical Church That Said A Woman’s Only Real Call
Is To Adore God Through Her Man
I spy, I spy that dream I should not be watching.
On each red rope of the swimming pool, dicks,
dicks, and more dicks. I swim and try to hold my breath
underwater for the world record radio show
but the announcer says, Suck, it's part of the race; come on.
You know why you came. Then he pulls out the shot gun.
Remember the rules you fucking bitch. And I am not the saint
who let herself be killed before raped in the name of Christ's mercy.
I am not the saint of anything. Some of us will have to live our whole lives
with that penance, that knowing no one will ever pray to us.
The water is warm. Sucking, I feel dirty for the sexiness;
I feel dirty for not liking it. Outside the whirlpool room,
stained glass windows give me wild turkeys gobbling the rotted
orange peels laced with heroin and needles. On the other side,
an Ontario reservation firework show. The chief at the bargain store
said, Free deal for the sparklers because I thought you looked sad.
How can he see me? He doesn't. A kind hand is going for another.
Most of my comfort has been in words not meant for me. Words
just drifting through the world, where in the beginning someone
chose what pleasure was and herded the boys & girls
into the back of the ice cream trucks and said this is how it will be done.
And the boys and girls began this new wave as though it were
as simple as neon hairdos with punk chain spikes— the loitering, oh
the loitering on a drug store curb, and a hey babe you know you like it.
At the mission, the ocean is hazy with sun down. The man sucks her breasts. You can't be in our club, they mouth between the fucking. I scrub the fish for the poor, but he beats me with a palm and says, No not like this. Why are you even here? Who are you helping, you shitty girl? She just goes on— her hands doing what he left with his burnt body. It was very hot that day and suicide feels like the pump of chlorine from a heated pool vent. I could swallow that wave for a thousand hours. My urine is stingy. The nurse says I was under for a long time. The couple is now fucking on the visitor’s chair; they wonder why I won't stay and help the cause. Have you forgotten what it was to be good? Twangy gospel plays on the shortwave: You need the heart of Jesus, the wild breath of a dove. I miss Virginia hills, that southern softness. We'll share this time, and they walk over— their genitals offered to my mouth. I choke on the wet hair.
I spit white pears
and rotted moss into the chemicals
thick soap running down.