God sweeps you up from sleep,
encloses you in his bleeding palm,
the sufferings of your body
an excuse you’d never use
to miss your sunrise prayers.
You say it’s not a choice.
Light pokes its fingers beneath your door
and draws the listeners – I am one, Daddy.
You chant my name, for God surely does not know it.
I may be your greatest sin: a lesbian
loosed into the world, a disease
that carries the side effect of love.
What a complication.
I hear your God-bargain, your prayer
for me to unchoose who I am
so you will see me, restored and unbroken,
in another life.
But, for now, this life.
I smooth the ointment on your feet,
feed you curds of soft egg,
wash away your incontinence.
You touch your head to mine,
sing the songs of my childhood,
share the stories of a life
that will soon be shed.
At night, you place your palsied hand
in mine, and I close the gentle vice
of my fingers around it.
This is what we choose to do.
Libby Swope Wiersema is an editor and writer living in Florence, South Carolina. She earned an MFA from Queens University in Charlotte and has had work published in Main Street Rag, Kakalak, Birmingham Arts Journal, River Poets Journal and others. Her first chapbook, The Season of Terminal Cold (Finishing Line Press), recounts the experience of her mother’s terminal illness and death. With the recent passing of her father, she continues to use writing as a tool to explore the complexities of loss.