By Gabrielle Marcus
I was born Jewish
and I was told I was Jewish
but it was all very offhand and I
never knew what to do at Seder,
though I read very well:
at 7 I was told there
was no God by Mother at a
Motel 6 after her god had been
dethroned at our former residence;
still we meditated, Mother and I,
on a towel on the cement balcony over
Denny's; Mother wanted Jonathan to too;
he refused and read sci fi in the bedroom -
still I said yes because
I'd always been into pleasing her.
at 8 I took TM in
White Plains. We learned our mantras upstairs
and brought our teachers fruit;
one student said he'd seen
rows of Campbell soup cans rushing before his
eyes did anyone know what that meant?
the teacher said you could keep your
eyes open until you were 10, so I read;
after 10 I meditated less.
at 12 Mother said there was
a God I yelled back and she
yelled back that how could I be angry over
her confusion? I felt
and then we attended
spiritualist churches and read
Shirley MacLaine books and
in them was my excuse for not
crying after my uncle's death
there is no death
and we tied crystals to
copper bands to our foreheads
and we prayed for the good of the world
then every second Wednesday,
then when no one was busy.
at 16 I read Emerson in class
and determined my Transcendentalism;
I prayed to Thoreau for my semester exam,
bowling his transparent eyeball into an
endless flow of gods.
First published in Bullseye, my high school literary magazine, in 1991. Line breaks are different than they appear here.