Lisa Ortiz is a seventh generation Californian and a fourth generation
California artist. With so many people looking over her shoulder, she
struggles to make poems that put on a good show. She earned her B.A.
in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, and her poems have
appeared in Princeton Arts Review, Wolf Head Quarterly, the anthology
Split Verse: Poems to Heal Your Heart and a poem forthcoming in the new
magazine Words and Pictures. She lives in rural northern California
with her husband and two daughters.

Why We're Going to Church

Because it is Sunday
and because I had to go
when I was a child and because
I sold my soul to God
when you were born

and He held your breath ransom
and because He is a son of a bitch
(but we keep that to ourselves)
and put on this dress
and stay still do not pinch your sister

and because mortality licks my ear
like a dog every morning
and what the hell a spiritual life
is a vertigo buzz and because
I want you to know

something about redemption
and suffering
so that you won’t confuse
Christmas with shopping
and Easter with chocolate

and because the moon
happens to appear the same size
as the sun and darkens our earth
with eclipse and because my soul
is a cavernous maw

and because those people in the hall
laid their hands on me when I cried
and they prayed and they sang
and your lymphatic system
stopped dripping and because

some mornings are silver with frost
some mornings mist with enchantment
and I think it is worth
getting tights
over the kick of your feet

so you can sit here
beside me—still, please!—and
look heavenward while we
open hymn books
and sing beyond reason

our voices braided with thines
twisted with thous wet in blood
all our voices rising above your upturned face
covering you with clouds and wind and sun
and maybe heaven.