Post-Mormons Are Leaving
Post-Mormons are leaving the circled-up pioneer wagons for wide open plains.
Post-Mormons are leaving crushed under ox-pulled wagon wheels, their jaws broken, lungs punctured.
They bear heavy family trees on their shoulders, the weight of eight generations, roots raking the earth. They carry their children’s children on their shoulders, packs and handcarts filled with susurrate rust.
Post-Mormons are the new Ex-Mormons. Or rather, Post-Mormons are Ex-Mormons who’ve swallowed embers and live to say, That was me.
Ex-Mormons see shards. Post-Mormons see a new bottle, the old bottle standing by, other bottles near: glass flasks, liquor cylinders, spirits bottles. Some tapered. Some ribbed. Some squat and square.
Post, Latin for after / behind
Ex, Latin for out of
Post-Mormons, then, are the ticker tape after the parade, fallen and trampled, swept together for recycling.
Ex-Mormons, then, are fugitives fleeing out of, refugees from the bombed city, survivors of the kill zone, escapees.
Post-Mormons are leaving the harsh x (like hex) of the Ex-Mormons and gathering their sorrow into the O of Post.
Post-Mormons are leaving the walled garden’s knowledge tree with its satisfying fruit to scavenge glacial soil’s mysterious sustenance.
They are leaving in droves, hemorrhaging from wards and stakes and missions around the world.
They aren’t leaving because they want to get intimate with evil or because someone swapped their cream for 1%.
They’re leaving because conscience needles. Because better angels prick. Because the path where they find their feet nettles, tricked with weeds.
They’re leaving bible bags. Missionary name tags. A stack of seminary manuals.
Post-Mormons hold an expired temple card. They remove their magic underwear, the magic gone, roll them and stack them like cords of white firewood, stow them in closets. Or shred them for cleaning cloths. Or burn them in a backyard bonfire.
Mine in a bedside bin. My husband’s in the garage, boxed up.
Post-Mormons are teens in grownup bodies. They purple their hair. They ink their skin. They pierce noses and tongues and navels.
They are alcohol virgins. They hold a salt-rimmed margarita. A chilled sangria. A champagne flute.
They are coffee virgins. They drink their first latte. First iced cappuccino. First mocha with whip.
They are smoke virgins. Some puff their first cigarette. First cigar. First joint.
Their Thou shalt nots turn to Why nots or Maybe nots or I’d rather nots.
Some leave husband or wife and kids. Attempt open marriage. Come out.
My mother and her wife, married at the end of a long December.
Post-Mormons walk barefoot over the wreckage of faith crisis, exchange bleeding digits for free time. They take up cycling and watercolor. They take up fly fishing and poetry. They take up bartending and competitive Scrabble.
On Sunday, they hike or shop or sleep or clean house.
Sometimes they miss getting all dressed up and sitting snug in a family pew and singing congregational hymns and carols. The chapel’s sanctuary a down quilt of quiet.
But those crazy angels with their hot pokers.
Post-Mormons are leaving in the night, trailing red, across a frozen river.
Post-Mormons are leaving, a quail flock following overhead.
Post-Mormons are leaving, a pocketful of sunflower seeds to scatter as they go.
Dayna Patterson is a former Managing Editor of Bellingham Review. She is also Poetry Editor for Exponent II Magazine and Founding Editor-in-Chief of Psaltery & Lyre. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fourth River, Hotel Amerika, The Journal of American Poetry, Literary Mama, North American Review, Sugar House Review, Weave, and others.