Register Thursday | June 20 | 2019

Mormon

A poem

How will a Mormon boy get a wife,
I wondered,if he declines his mission to wander the world,
spreading the Mormon word as he goes:
no wife for a Mormon boy who refuses.

So I was kind to two young Mormon men
who came to my door last Saturday morning—
the point man in short-sleeved shirt and blue tie,
his back-up in short-sleeved shirt and blue tie—

the former displaying a pulp magazine
which featured a story on the fashion industry
and its dangers, especially to young women:
anorexia, bulimia, and low self-esteem.

I listened until—as if at some prearranged signal—
 the second flipped open a leather-bound book
he had held until then with a slothlike grip.
It was my cue to say: I am not a Christian.

This has been true of my life for so long
that to say it out loud gives only a moderate high,
which in turn brings only a moderate low.
And so I did not take it too badly on coming back in

to hear my eight-year-old daughter say,
in her deepest voice: I am not a Christian;
though to hear her say it brought it home in a new way,
and I thought for a moment that this is serious

and that she should take it more seriously,
so I considered putting the fear into her, telling her
that if her grandfather heard her say such a thing
he would think us condemned to eternal damnation.

Instead I sat back down on the couch beside her
where it so happened there was scheduled
an end-of-season Fashion File—the year’s best show,
the year’s best designer, the year’s best newcomer.

And watching, I reserved my loudest cheers
for headdresses of ostrich and emu feathers,
for models with bleached invisible eyebrows,
for models with slack, stew-bone thighs.

While she preferred the more womanly models—
 though she did not care for naked breasts—
and reserved her loudest cheers for young Marc Jacobs
and for the ready-to-wear from Donna Karan.

What a world this is for a Mormon boy, I thought,
who declines his mission to wander the world,
spreading the Mormon word as he goes:
what a world for a Mormon boy who refuses.