What Divides Me From God

I begin to pray, 
“Our Father, who art in heaven…”
I get no further
Before I question
Father?
Why would I pray to a father?

I remember our father
Striding home from work, whistling
Hoisting me on his shoulders
In the Mardi Gras crowds
“Throw me something, Mistah”

I remember our father
Taking us to the beach
Letting me sprinkle sand
On his already balding head

I remember our father
Driving us drunkenly 
Onto the river ferry
To his half-brother’s house
In Algiers
Late one night
Walking in
Collapsing on the first bed
As we trailed behind

I remember our father
Getting thrown out of our uncle’s house
For what we children assumed
Was being ugly to our uncle’s 
Beautiful young wife
But now I think it probably wasn’t ugly
That he was being, our father

I remember our father
At Easter Dinner the year my sister married
“I’ve never been able to say motherfucker
At my own table
Motherfucker, motherfucker, motherfucker”

I remember…
You know, this gets me no closer to God at all
These memories
Let me let our father rest in peace
Rise, I hope, in glory

Let’s try Our Mother who art…
Oh shit, who art what
Tired?
Scared?
Too fragile emotionally
To shield us?
Egging our father on
Occasionally 
Or now
Just old
Needing help
Needing care
Needing attention

Well, this isn’t getting me any closer
To an all-powerful Supreme Being

But this is the prayer Jesus taught
So the Bible tells us
Jesus the God-Man
This is his prayer, his command
To make it our own

Dear Jesus
Blessed with good, easy parents
Whatever the truth
Of the origins of the sperm that made you
Perhaps, perhaps
You are not necessarily 
Best suited to teach me a prayer
To help me cross the divide to God

But then again
Maybe you are
Maybe the best I can do
Right now
Is meditate on, puzzle over
Our Father

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