Saturday, September 29, 2007

Church of Childhood

I saw this poem on my sister's blog. She wrote it. God, I love that girl. And can you believe I didn't even know she sometimes writes poetry?

"In the Church of Childhood,
a poem to share with my x-Catholic friend"

In the Church of Childhood
I take communion from you,
genuflect to the Procreators.
Place your ideas in my mouth,
teach me, feed me, mold me
on Sunday and everyday.
In your collection plate
I offer up my innocence.
You are my gods,
I am your lamb.
One day the world will reap
what you have sown.
So say a prayer for me.

I like this poem for its emotion, though I realize that poetry is a very personal thing— some of us preferring form over emotion or artfulness over content, etc. So I thought I'd add this little commentary from Pooh to Piglet, on the art of writing poetry:

"And that's the whole poem," he said. "Do you like it, Piglet?"

"All except the shillings," said Piglet. "I don't think they ought to be there."

"They wanted to come in after the pounds," explained Pooh, "so I let them. It is the best way to write poetry, letting things come."

"Oh, I didn't know," said Piglet.

Poem by Sandi S. Used with permission. Church photo by Stefani M. Rossi Used with permission.

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Blogger Christine said...

WOW! My eagerness to read your memoir increases by the moment. I will say a prayer for her, or is it for her friend that I should be praying?

7:07 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Very interesting poem. I appreciate the beauty that seems more resident and coming out of the more catholic or orthodox faith of Christianity. And I think there are aspects in them and this being one, that we as evangelicals need to hear and receive and take in more into our own faith.

8:28 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christine... I suppose that some of the poem's emotion comes out of our own experiences, and we were also raised Catholic. But I believe the poem really is more for the friend.

Ted... I'm guessing that my sister meant no disrespect for the Catholic faith, but rather that she was getting at some kind of irony... that perhaps the x-Catholic friend threw away a good faith but now acts as a parent in the way that he/she thought the church acted toward him/her. I'm just guessing, but the poem does seem to have an ironic tone.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Sandy Carlson said...

This is strong. Reminds me of a poem I read yesterday at Wisdom House that was published in a magazine entitled Christian Arts (I believe.) The central metaphor of that poem was of slicing wafers for communion and stamping them with images and that space where metaphor and reality are indistinguishable. Beautiful, like this one.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

I love the various connotations of the title. I read it one way the first time; then, in reading all of these comments, I realized that perhaps the phrase was meant another way. Now I can't separate the two. I think the last sentence is particularly haunting for parents--all your labor is for the benefit of another. I also really like the line about offering up innocence in the collection plate. That really does seem to be all children have to offer. And yet we don't want them to give THAT away. How else will they grow up, though?

This is really beautiful. Thanks for sharing your sister with us.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

I've held off commenting while I try to understand what the poem is about. Reading the comments, I realise it's probably playing off attitudes that aren't built into me, at least to some extent. Still, I can see the beauty, even without knowing exactly what it means. Here is what I see: innocence and openness, and a breathtaking throbbing danger in a child's so very necessary trust of and awe for her parents. But that is partly my own feeling getting mixed in.

When it comes to my own feelings on form and artfulness over emotion and content, I find -- well -- great joy in the first two, but it wouldn't be poetry without the last two (form and artfulness alone would merely create a cool thing to tell your mathsy friends about). As a reader, I take any and all poetry as it comes, and I like all types (including what little I have seen of yours, LL). As a writer, I stick with strict forms purely because, well, I've never written a piece of free verse that had any greater strength than a piece of wilted lettuce. I guess I hope that if I play with forms for long enough, one day I'll be able to stick form into a free-form poem as and where necessary. For now, though, I find it easier to fit the poem to the form than the other way around.

2:34 AM  
Blogger A Musing Mom said...

I'm still over the poem (speaks of the church of MY childhood). Thanks for sharing.

And I appreciate your addition of Pooh's words on poetry. So true. So true. About any kind of creative writing really.

9:35 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sandy... an interesting thought about the indistinguishability (real word?) between reality and metaphor. Sometimes we feel the real even more through the weight of metaphor, because it digs into emotions and thoughts we might otherwise be unaware of or afraid to admit or explore.

Charity... yes, when I first read the poem, I totally felt this incredible sense of responsibility towards these little beings God has given me to shepherd. In fact, I felt rather overwhelmed. But then I realized that I'm not quite as fatalistic as the poem is. I know I make mistakes as a parent, sometimes doing damage to my children. But I also believe the truth of the Psalm, "if my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up." I believe it partly because I have lived it in my own experience, of finding redemption despite early abandonments of various types.

Lynet... I hadn't considered that side of it...that the trust on the child's side is necessary. Which I suppose puts even more responsibility on the parents' side, not to betray that trust. As for your thoughts on poetry, I loved that comment about sharing with your mathsy friends. I suppose your attraction to math may also explain your attraction to form-driven poetry.

A Musing... I always appreciate your openness about your childhood. And, as for Pooh, I have discovered, upon a fresh reading of the classic version of his story, that, for a Bear of Very Little Brain, he was quite the poet and quite the philosopher!

2:09 PM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

I never thought of poetry just to come, but I think that is something I should think about. Thank you so much for sharing the poem from your sister and your insight :)

Be blessed today and always.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

what a wonderful poem - for me, I think it speaks to religion versus a relationship with Christ - and this can happen in many denominations/religions.

Now when does that book come out? I want to read it NOW!

8:03 AM  
Blogger Christine said...


Do you think your sister was alluding to something darker than the comments here indicate?

1:43 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Eph... It's a pleasure to share my sister's work. She's a bit of a closet writer, and I was honored that she let me reproduce the poem here.

Halfmom... true. Some religious experience is so degrading. But not the kind that is rooted in a true relationship with Jesus. As for the book date, it's scheduled to release in March 2008. Counting down!

Christine... oh, knowing her writing, yes. Definitely darker. And perhaps a bit "push-the-envelope" too. Because I have a hunch that the x-Catholic friend may not really be a friend, but perhaps someone of her acquaintance who condemns the church but acts towards his/her child as a squelcher-of-identity, even perhaps an abuser. I haven't asked her this for sure, but I know she has people like this in her life. And I suppose I will not ask either, or if I do I probably won't confirm it here. I do believe that the poem stands on its own, and that it would be important for readers to find what they want or need in it.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Papa Goodyear said...

"ideas in my mouth" transit inside to become integral to myself yet are still readily spoken. I like that.

3:59 PM  

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