Saturday, June 15, 2024

Intro to Comparative Religion By Edison Jennings

I wasn’t religious but you were          

and that’s why I was there,

in the Presbyterian Youth Annex

next to a high-steepled church 

drinking bad coffee, 

and when you asked why 

I said I was a Buddhist, 

nonsense of course, a feint 

you parried by tilting your head 

away from me and into a light 

besotted by your face,

reason enough to follow Buddha

and drink bad coffee in a room 

with folding chairs, card tables, 

a sketchy pin-ball machine,

a lot of church kids, 

and Hendrix stratocasting

voodoo through a dinky radio, 

but Catholic would have served 

my adolescent wants as well, 

but not sufficient reason for you,

who decided to pursue the inquisition 

outside, a chance to confess, 

I thought, following the floral trail

of your cologne while taking note 

of the curl in your black hair 

and Primavera profile 

until we reached what purported 

to be a garden, much withered  

and moribund, and though 

I knew nothing of Dante at the time, 

I would have understood

why he walked through hell,

when you turned and looked at me

in that dying garden.

Edison Jennings lives in Southern Appalachia and works as a Head Start bus driver and GED instructor. He is a recipient of a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship. His poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies. His chapbook, Reckoning, and collection of poems, Intentional Fallacies, are available through Jacar Press and Broadstone Books, respectively.

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