Why Some Days, I Wish I Still Loved Jesus

Joan Kwon Glass
| poetry


The night before I was baptized
in my mother’s church, I dreamed
of drowning, my lungs a sudden
pond, fish long gone, eclipsed
moon void of breath. How long can I go on
actually believing I am different
from my mother? I have tried to erase
her from myself—scowl away her
smile on my face, scoff away her God.
Every time I cast a vote, I take pride
in voiding hers. My mother flips on
the lights when she enters the room,
and I shut them off. When I was five, I hid
in my bedroom closet, listened to her call
my name frantically through the house,
and I did not answer her. She has always
been the only one to stay and the one I most
wished would go. Only a father could watch his son
suffer, die on a cross even—and do nothing,

If Mary had a daughter instead of a son,
would she have spent less time watching
the world turn its back on her child, more
wondering why her child turned from her?
As a girl, I stood beside my mother
in the church pew as she sang The Old Rugged Cross
by heart. I imagined a love so big
that the only way to survive it was to die
and be born again. Under water,
I am holding my breath. Instead of fish–
a thousand versions of me swim
in its growing depths, searching
in vain for a way out.

Joan Kwon Glass is the author of Night Swim (Diode Editions, 2022). She serves as Editor-in-Chief for Harbor Review, and her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in The Slowdown, Poetry Northwest, Ninth Letter, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.

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