Every Saturday I go to church.
It’s not what you think.
My non-traditional tradition, this ritual,
Calling me each week.
I could sleep in, but no–
I am pulled to be there
in community with this particular congregation,
To receive the blessings it offers me.
There are no pews, but tables in a U-shape, chairs,
No pulpit but a microphone passed around
No altar but a box of paper prompts,
Our communion is our writing,
words scribbled in notebooks,
Then read aloud, no matter how profane
Or tender, absurd or banal.
The sharing makes it nothing less than holy.
This sacred passion we share for words, books, writing,
Intensifies as we gather, emboldens us to grow,
Makes us more than we might be praying
with our pens in our rooms alone.
Every week we write it, minutes at a time. The gospel according to me, to you.
All true, none of it true, so help me God.
You are so near
I could pet you,
my finger longing
to touch something
older than imagination.
Rain taps against the window-glass,
children buzz by museum
exhibits. I keep my ear cocked for
my own as I sit beside your
bones. It is only a small
shift, out of the mind-chatter,
to see the world fresh. To let
70 million years ago
you were as alive as I
am now, creatures
on this Earth, in need
of warmth and oxygen.
You forraged for green
cycads in the Cretaceous
period. I pluck lettuce
from my 21st century garden.
Without water, we both die.
I roll around my tongue words
given to you: ceratopsian,
ornithischian. I could
sit comfortably in your rib
cage, maybe stand.
Your crowned head the largest
of any land animal. Ever. You
lumbered, plodded, thundered this Earth,
these gray-brown crinkled bones
now a testament, a shrine.
How could it be that Nature conjured
us from the same number, my
200 bones waving a hand
of recognition to yours. You are
Sister, Monster, Mother, Beast,
a history-science lesson so
abstract, so real that I could
70 million years collapse
as we meet, skin to bone,
human to dinosaur.
by Theresa Jarosz Alberti
Excerpt from book: (After) Confession