I wish I could be, I told my mother. No, wait,
don’t misunderstand. I wish I could redact
the oath I took at ten years old, before I had the chance
to break it. To be broken. To understand
what reparation meant, and who provided it. I wish
I could undo and remake the memory
of dipping my toe into the church jacuzzi, inhaling
the rose-scented Holy Spirit that lapped
at my T-shirt, thinking that this was it, the box
checked, the glory earned, and barely, briefly
wondering why I did not feel ethereal. If only I
had waited for the tide to turn, for my head
to bash against the wall, for the concept of drowning
to sink in, then the surrender of my lungs
would have been all the more momentous. But
the point, the prospect is long since forgone
because I can’t take it back and I have since
stopped wishing for it all to be less simple.
All of it, all, the being led, the falling away, the crawling
back, was my path. To Him. No matter
if it was momentous. The Holy Spirit now courses
through my veins. And besides, the moment
came. The moment has come. The moment keeps
happening over and over again, and it will
not stop. When I need reminding I simply
step into the sun, spread my arms from east to west
and look down where the moment rests in my shadow
contentedly, in the shape of a cross.
Faith is a funny thing, always
creeping up on you when you least expect it.
And no, faith isn’t the same as trust.
Trust is stepping onto the water’s surface. Faith
is what catches you when you fall beneath.
When, not if. What can I say? The tide
came for me, as it does. Placid under
white white sheets or awake in the crowded
dark. My faith became Why? and, Why not?
Hello! and, Hello? It feels like less of a glorification
than a necessity, but I’m getting there, learning
how to stay standing when the trust beneath me
breaks. It is not flight but floating. I am
rock solid but the hollow part of me invites
the buoy. Trust is bringing my pieces back
to the water over and over again. Faith is the pause
after the flood, the brief glimpse up to the sky.
You failed me, faith says, but so far,
I still believe in You.
It sounds silly, but I needed God
to believe in me. The way
my mother did in elementary school,
when she would tell me, you can do it
while grasping my shoulder,
as if her touch made physical
the belief. Oh, Lord, how many nights
have I knelt until carpet fibers
etched little crosses on my knees?
Stock still, praying for contact, hoping
for any manifestation of Your hands, Your
feet. My hair, loose. The perfume
ready. The tears already falling. I ached.
Oh, Lord, how I ached to hear
a voice break the silence with a
you can do it, or something
of the sort. But as the silence persisted
the fear of hearing, it doesn’t
work that way instead would cause me
to tremble. Oh, Lord oh
Lord, tell me how it works, then?
It sounds silly, what I needed,
because in truth, it was not
a necessity. I wanted God
to believe in me, when I needed
to believe in Him. In the silence
so silent, I waited for a voice
and what I heard was this:
a heart beating steadily into the void,
I can’t do it. I can’t do it.
But surely You can.
Natasha Bredle is a young writer based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in publications such as Peach Mag, Words and Whispers, and The Lumiere Review. She has received accolades from the Bennington College Young Writers Awards as well the Adroit Prizes. In addition to poetry and short fiction, she has a passion for longer works and is currently drafting a young adult novel.
Photo Credit: “Silhouette of woman open arms under the sunset” by Nenad Stojkovic, Flickr.com. Modified by Veronica McDonald.