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grandfather on God and Richmond

December 5, 2011

by Joanna Suzanne Lee

I just ain’t sure about God.
They say divinity’s as slippery as truth these days:
harder to pin down than a riversnake.


for example,
the downtown silhouette
from across the Manchester Bridge
on a winter’s early evening, the
moon just shy of full, blushing
behind lit twelfth-storey windows, the soul-eyes
of a city half-wrapped in rivermist
and dinner plans, grinning teeth
of January jack-o’-lanterns reflecting
over rock and rapid.
Fourteenth and Main
on a rainy rush hour, drops
spilling river-ward through traffic light
and streetlamp, tires
leaving splashmarks across
the footprint of cavalry and


Better yet, walk with me
through the whispers
at Belle Island, where the voices of fallen prisoners
haunt the college kids sunning like
sea lions out over the rocks.

When autumn comes,
the waters will rise in waves, creeping up
on the empty beer cans and cigarette
packs, washing them down
past Chapel Isle and the ruins of the Confederate boatyard
as the river runs home.

I’m dying,
take me to the old hospital
where McGuire’s successors taught
medicine with stolen bodies; no
chain-linkedSaint-named designer cure
for this oldheart. Andwhen

I’m dead
take me to
and a spot
where I can see the river
from a grave
without a cross:
I still ain’t
too sure about God.

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Joanna Suzanne Lee has never been formally trained in any kind of writing, thank you very much. She can, however, dissect the brainstem of a neonatal mouse or diagnose your lower back pains. Her first full-length book of poetry, the somersaults I did as I fell (iColor, Richmond, VA), was released in January of 2009. She writes (semi-)regularly at the tenth muse.

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