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An nonprofit, independent book publisher and writers' workshop located in Philadelphia that creates innovative relationships between the authors and the work they produce.

Excerpt from The Bible Belt Almanac

Common Ground

by Kate Click

When I tell my mother this isn’t the first she’s hearing of it, she wilts into herself

like a beat dog and says, I think I knew that. I think, I always knew that. She tells me how evil

has made her a pawn, how the same twisted shadow crossed her bed when she was small.

How could I have helped you? I didn’t know how to help myself. She hasn’t mentioned God yet

but I know it’s on the move, the slow inevitable roll of hot air coming to explain away

our bruised bodies with words like grace and blood. In the office where we sit too close,

spent and rigid on a paisley couch, a therapist offers us herbal tea in red paper packages,

holds her hands out and open, equally balancing her body-weight between the two of us.

She thinks we can find a common ground, drink something warm and move past this trauma

into God’s light, and I ask her what I’ve always asked—What good is God’s light if it has no arms?

What I’m asking is—no, what I’m telling her is that there is no saving this. If my mother

and I were pawns, then God was the Queen, shifting her beam across the board with no

power to move through our marbled bodies or lift us off the slab, making righteous war

with her presence. Holy, holy. The therapist thinks this fissure is something one can mend,

like a frayed heirloom bonnet or a quilt with busted seams, but there is no undoing time.

There is no skin or stone or bark to graft back into us, and if we were made in God’s image,

figure it a broken bone, cast and re-cast into new false rhetorics of wholeness.

And my mother, she is still beating herself for all of this armless light, for forgetting

the blood is shed for evil kings too, and all I want is to cradle her silver head to my chest and

hold her. What I mean is, I want to tell my mother I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

The Bible Belt Almanac

Released June 2016

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