Are unicorns real, Mommy?
Of course they are, sweetie,
For any boy with imagination
As vast as yours.
So I invented entire galaxies
And inhabited them;
Drew their maps
And wrote their histories;
Whenever jokes didn’t make sense;
Whenever I couldn’t catch balls;
Whenever there was laughing and pointing;
Whenever my hands had no place to go.
One morning I woke up early;
The backyard had a bluish glow;
I thought my people had come for me;
But it was the bug zapper.
My father tried to teach me to throw like a man.
He wrestled with me, called me sir, shook my hand.
But his lesson that stuck
Was that life is a question.
I did not want a horn on my head;
It makes me clumsy; people keep their distance;
Many times I sawed it off
But it always grew back.
To be a unicorn means to remain a child forever;
To sit improperly in chairs;
To look for elves in the drug store;
To gallop without explanation.
I kissed a boy once;
I crushed on so many lesbians;
Then I married a woman
Who wanted a unicorn.
Just so it’s clear:
I’m bisexual, autistic, and I speak in tongues;
I flirt with plants and I pray in Greek;
That’s why I don’t attract disciples.
I love Jesus and I’m also in the chariot
With Arjuna overlooking Kurukshetra;
I had a Dionysus phase and it’s not completely over;
I sit with jungle grandmas and monks of all kinds.
Which means that everything I do is appropriation;
I am a tourist everywhere;
I have no homeland; there are no ancestors.
And yet there are ancestors:
A salty oilman Baptist deacon grandpa;
The Yale dean who translated the RSV;
South Texas watermelon farmers, Mississippi eye doctors.
A missionary who went to China
And came back a Daoist evangelist;
Maybe she’s the one who makes other
Peoples’ truths stick to me like flypaper.
Do they stand behind me as ancestors are supposed to do?
Or have they left in disgust and bewilderment?
Maybe my ancestors are inside the horn on my head;
Maybe they keep shoving me into lovelier confusion.
I want to breathe God’s name in perfect surrender;
I want to dance in perfect sync with love;
But I stampede and break things;
I try to seize every hand that seems like it’s leaving.
Can you handle a beautiful mess?
Because whatever oozes from my orifice,
I am still God’s poetry;
I just want him to finish the damn poem.
But he keeps on adding new plot twists:
Mountaintop experiences that aren’t supposed to happen
Since other gods are being invoked;
And yet Jesus is there too?
I really need Jesus to wear a nametag;
I’m always looking for him
And he always says I’m here
In the form of wrong people like
Shamans who ask me how to connect with Jesus;
So I ask Jesus;
And he says something inane like
“Just breathe” or “Keep dancing.”
I just want you to give me a valid Bible verse;
I’m nervous because you don’t bring yourself up
Enough in my conversations to feel like
I’m still a full-time Christian.
I don’t trust my footing;
Unicorns are jumpy:
You keep horse-whispering me
But never in a safe, orthodox way.
So I’m stepping out in this field beyond:
I think you led me here,
And I’m terrified
You’re going to say I’m free to run.