Tuesday, November 13, 2018

HOLY YOUGH. by Chani Zwibel

We had gone to West Newton Giant Eagle
to get pads for my Mom-
she was sick with her period
and I was just slightly too young to get mine-
I knew that it would come at some time in future-
like death-
but not for a while.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Said the red letters on the billboard on the river road,
Red like Jesus’ holy blood so I’d been taught,
And Dad asked me if I thought that was so.
My nine-year-old self
Had only what I knew from church for answers.
My father was born a Jew.
I knew that meant he was God’s chosen people,
but they didn’t believe in Jesus.
Not yet.
Still, he wanted my opinion.
His first-born daughter.
A blessing,
and though a child,
a wise one with a voice.
But it seemed, even then, an intrusion.
A man’s spiritual beliefs are his own,
I knew without asking,
The Youghiogheny River
was Dad’s church.
His faith, his creed, his temple
was there on black-brown river banks,
there in green-brown sheen on ripples
and cool-musty smell of water
in whispering breeze through tree branches.
The catch and release of rainbow trout,
scales gleaming was blessed with promise.
The voice of the Lord upon the waters,
not walking on them but dwelling within.
No walls but forest.
No floor but earth.
No roof but sky.  
So what could my response be, but
“I think that’s right, Dad, but
I think you should read it for yourself.”
He nodded, eyes on the road,
following the winding bends
along the way
between the train tracks and the river,
driving home.

Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming.

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