June 25, 2009

My Jesus is Porcelain (2003)

My Jesus is Porcelain

Riding the bus the other day,
while my eyes were scanning unfamiliar
houses and oxidized mailboxes,
a stranger wearing a moth-eaten
smile and a devious brown sweater
erupted alcohol in my nose as
he told me what the world looks like
behind those deep brown eyes of his.
I cannot recall all the details of his
worldview, but he asserted strongly,
“Jesus Christ, Our Savior, is a black man.”

I made the decision not to argue with
this declaration, or his conjugation
of the verb “to be,” whose present
tense leads to quite slippery questions.
Instead, I simply nodded my head
as if listening to music I enjoyed.
The nodding was just to appease
the too-close alcoholic, but when I
think of Jesus, I think of grandma’s

house, the musty scent of decay in the
air and the west-facing window over
the sink where her hands pruned up even more
as she cleaned the dishes from her night’s cooking
and a porcelain Jesus stood, his arms
illuminated by a setting sun.