We wait at the edge of the water.
The fat preacher is up to his waist –
He motions the first girl to him.
Our toes sink
into mud, beer cans,
old fishing line.
My father watches.
I can’t see my mother.
She has done this before,
the year I was born –
her swollen belly barely
consumed by the water.
I was the first child in a line of 5
and I will be the first to meet God.
Here in the river,
my small white hands,
like two albino fish,
fight to keep from drifting.
I can’t pay attention to the words.
I pull on my dress ribbons waiting.
The girl before me cries softly –
She is afraid of water and the preacher.
A hymn breaks between dunkings.
I am next. I walk out
to meet those hands.
I am not afraid. It is just water.
This is where the lightning touched
the surface – Memory works like this,
without commitment, without oaths
taken before God or men,
without the burden of truth.
We walked together for a time.
The trees bloomed and
everywhere there was life
singing out to dusk.
But now we walk
like the defeated,
past arbors and roots,
into the snowdrifts.
Words get lost here.
Intention was fine for a time,
but truth opened us
up, revealed the rot.
We were children then.
We had to believe that the earth
was spinning by God’s myth.
We rattled the bones,
threw the birds into the hereafter,
expecting them to return.
Becoming an Angel
First, you put down your pistol
and untie the woolly creature.
She has blood in her eyes.
You wipe her clean and give her
a look of glass and fire.
She will not forget your mercy.
Then you must burn all your books.
They are full of hate and necessity.
You are too much in the air to be filled
with the poison of philosophers.
When this has been done,
bathe in an elixir made of baby’s breath
Make sure everything leaves you
in a last gasp
When you are clean,
call your mother.
Tell her you walk on water
and no longer need her to hold you
to the earth.
Tell your friends you are spirit
Tell them if they call your name,
you will not respond.
Tell them you are beyond the blue.
When they leave
and you are alone –
take the pistol
and look into the fragile Heaven.
Aleah Sato is a marketing manager and co-owner of Ricksticks Inc, a visual communications firm in Toronto. She is the author of the recently released book Badlands and the forthcoming Stillborn Wilderness (Pooka Press 2007). Her work has appeared in Nthposition, Adirondack Review, juked, Just West of Athens, Blue Fifth Review and Eclectica. She can be reached through her site: www.aleahsato.com.