What Happens When a Woman Says ‘Yes’ to God? – a poem by Gabrielle Langley

What Happens When a Woman Says ‘Yes’ to God? 

In a grocery store 
in Mississippi
waiting for the steaks
and strawberries 
to inch forward,
a black conveyor belt,
a flimsy book rack 
catches my eye,
paperbacks 
for Christians
strategically placed 
for the impulse buy.

One title, in particular,
rivets:
“What Happens When Women Say ‘Yes’ to God.” 
(There are no books telling us what happens to the men.)
I wonder about this.
Exactly what does happen 
when a woman says “Yes” to God?
Is this something spiritual?
Or something else?
Zeus disguises himself
as a white bull,
a beating of feathers,
a rain of gold.

Eve is stripped of her clothes.
She promises not to eat apples.

Isis chokes
on the flesh of her brother.
The Virgin Mary
defends her swollen belly.
Guan Yin loses her children.

Somewhere in Venice
a courtesan is made
to dance on water.

Whispering Aramaic
a prostitute washes
men’s feet
with her hair.

I tell myself that this book
exists only because
there is a grocery store
here in Mississippi
where the checkout girl
was forced to go to church
from an early age,
a simpler place
where we can all rest assured
she’s been taught
all she needs to know 
about Eve’s problem with fruit
where she learns
to pass the meat
and the strawberries
back to the sack boy.

In just a few days
I will return to my own home
in one of the largest cities
in the United States.
I will have tickets waiting 
for my favorite ballet.
But even there, nightly,
in the grandest of theatres,
God-like, the great sorcerer,
Rothbart,
beats his grackle wings 
over a pitch black lake.
The audience, breathless,
has paid to see 
a white swan
turned
into a woman
against her will.
The next day
Spring.
White jasmine scales the fence
and Notre Dame de Paris
bursts into flame.
                       

Gabrielle Langley released her first book of poetry, Azaleas on Fire, in March of 2019She has received the Lorene Pouncey Award, Houston Poetry Fest’s Jury Prize, the Vivian Nellis Memorial Prize, and three Pushcart prize nominations. With poetry appearing in a variety of literary journals, Ms. Langley was also a spearhead and co-editor for the anthology Red Sky: Poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books – 2016). Additional information about this poet can be found at www.gabriellelangley.com.

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