Friday, December 18, 2009

Baptism: Olympic College Poetry Workshop



Bremerton was gray from the ground up
the day a former nun ripped out my guts
and stomped on them in front of 24 strangers.

At the time I didn’t know she’d been a nun;
but I did know she was Published
and I had been raised to respect

my elders. For two hours, she pontificated
over the other 24 poems while I sat
sweating, heart twitching,

waiting for my turn. Waiting.
Was my poem lost? forgotten? Finally,
in the last 2 minutes, the Poet asked,

“Who wrote this? Who wrote this
last piece?” I raised my hand,
every white face turned to look.

“I don’t have much to say, really.
Not well-crafted. Too angry.
And you’ve created a genocidal God!”

She laughed. “Give it up and start over.
Thank you, everyone, it’s been
a lovely afternoon.”

Done! My niece’s death, her
mixed-blood complications
with bone-marrow donors,

the history of Father Serra’s
missions, dismissed, wrong.
Not a poem, she said.

All the way home, I seethed
with horror and shame,
chewed hard words

till my jaw, inflamed,
cracked on the splinters.
I swore

on Tiara’s name:
I’ll be a better writer
someday, tell this story

without so many flaws,
do right by you.
Now,
decades later, I know:

it wasn’t me. Sometimes
one woman’s saint
is another’s nightmare;

sometimes, a genocidal
God is just
a genocidal God

and no amount of schooling
makes pretty poetry
out of that.

- Deborah A. Miranda


Note: Seems like most writers have a Writing Workshop Horror Story. Mine was really a downer; I consider it my "baptism" into the world of Professional Poetry. I was so innocent that I honestly thought a published poet would know what he/she was talking about! As, indeed, many do; but not all, and this experience, which could have ended my budding career, instead served as a crucible for my anger, and my ability to articulate it.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful poem. I like the way this is sort of a "do-over" to tell Tiara's story again. I think you do her proud. And I definitely have had that moment when a respected teacher came down on me so hard as to almost crush my spirit.

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