Looking For God

I once thought I knew my way.
I walked through churches
where men wore white robes
and gold embroidered stoles
to cover emptiness.

The smell of baptismal water
led me to stepping stones
that carried me across
deep places in the stream
promising peaceful pastures
where cows munch grass
and birds
perch on their backs
pecking bugs for breakfast.

I wanted to find words
that would lift me
from a dark abyss
where doubts gnawed daily at my brain.
I wanted to stay on a path
with scent of purple lilacs
surrounding me.

I was happy with the smell of smugness
until I found myself
in a blistering blizzard –
thoughts fell in flurries
covering the path from sight.
It would be great
if like Grandpa Will
I could take a rope
from behind the kitchen door
tie it to the knob
light the lantern
set out for the barn and
tie the rope to a hook
so I could find my way back
through the blinding snow.

I want to hear the pigs grunt
see the cows chewing their cuds
feel the warmth of fresh milk
sloshing in the pail.

I don’t want old ways
to leave me frozen on their path.
I don’t want to plow knee deep
through banks of icy snow
back to Grandpa’s kitchen
and the hook behind the door.

That’s why I’ve searched for new maps
with inserts that magnify and
dragons – festooned around the frame –
to beguile me,
push me into new streets
into places with telescopic windows
into music halls resounding,
rising and expanding,
like steam from my kettle.

There are sips of herbal tea I’ve never tasted,
winds echoing dissident voices, unpolluted air.
There are kitchens shelved with recipes,
markets heaped with exotic foods:
ginger roots and mangoes, Brussels sprouts,
mushrooms, kiwis, and yellow Yukon potatoes.
There are garbage bins lined along the curb
waiting to be dumped.

I stroll along
dropping crumbs to direct me
past the structured church
and its offer of eternal feasts.

I walk by. Hear the organ
swell a funeral dirge,
see my coffin lid click open,
feel a heavy pall draw free.

* After Pablo Neruda’s, “Walking Around”

About Cherise Wyneken

Cherise Wyneken is a freelance writer, whose stories, poems, and articles have appeared in a variety of publications, two books of poetry, a memoir, “Round Trip: Reflections On My Life and Rebellion,” a novel, “Freddie,” a poetry chapbook,” Old Haunts,” PUDDING HOUSE PUBLICATIONS, and a new book, Stir-Fried Memories, at WhisperingBooks.com.

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