What I Believe (Post-2016) by John Erickson


Ever since the election of You-Know-Who, I have been doing a lot of creative writing. Unlike academic publications, policy reports, or my dissertation, creative writing, much like my mentor Dr. Marie Cartier has written about, provided me with a needed escape from a world that seems to grow darker with each passing day.  In college, I served as Poetry Editor for the Wisconsin Review, the oldest literary journal in Wisconsin.

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I have been rereading the poetry that I wrote during this time when I was just entering into the world of Women’s Studies in Religion while under the tutelage of Dr. Kathleen Corley and my Creative Writing Professor Pamela Gemin.

What follows is a poem that I have been repeating to myself a lot lately. Like a mantra for salvation, I too, find myself fixed with trying to understand some aspect of the divine feminine, in a world that emphasizes masculine dominance.

Whatever you’re doing to get through these difficult times, I hope it brings you as much solace as creative writing has brought me.

A Ghazal to Eve, from her friend Mary

I am neither the hand-folded statuette nor the painted picture of virginity;
I am a wild woman trapped inside a holy vessel.

I am not the encrusted image on a burnt grilled cheese sandwich,
sold on eBay for a quick buck.

I am neither the perfect, blessed virgin
nor the woman held so highly in the prayers of millions.

Neither carefully ironed white sheets
soften my lustrous red lipstick.

Eve, you are my divine inspiration,
heroine of my son’s bedtime stories.

Floating red apples plague my dreams,
but I am not strong enough to take the apple like you.

My life was adventurous
but full of soliloquies in the darkness.

Slithering serpents wrap around my ankles,
I’m neither free nor independent but tied down.

Throngs of people crowd churches praising me, Mary,
whilst I pray to a woman, my hero, Eve.

*Originally Published in The Wisconsin Review, Vol. 43, Issue 3, Spring 2009

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Categories: Activism, Art, Belief, college, Community, Education, Faith, Female Saints, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Awakenings, Feminist Theology, Gender, Gender and Power, General, God, Goddess, Goddess Spirituality, Herstory, Literature, Matriarchy, Ritual, Social Justice, Spirituality, Women and Community, Women in the Church, Women Mystics, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

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11 replies

  1. Like you, as the days grow darker I turn more and more to writing for solace and for sanity. I simply cannot bear what is happening on this planet. My body often feels lead -like or numb and everywhere I turn I see destruction. I don’t own a television and I don’t listen to news but living so intimately with Nature forces me to witness strange and ominous happenings. The lack of songbirds, the way the maples are dropping their leaves from drought and root loss…I could go on and on here. I have never felt this unbalanced.

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  2. Love it, though I support efforts to view Mary as the Goddess, I feel deeply that Mary and Eve must be reconciled. As long as one is sexual and naked and the other is clothed and virgin, women will continue to be slut shamed!

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  3. Right on, write on, John! Thank you for sharing. I think you might enjoy The Maeve Chronicles and also The Wild Mother (being reissued in a 25th anniversary issue next year). Both sound themes and contain imagery similar to those in your inspiring poem.

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  4. LOVE the A Ghazal to Eve, from her friend Mary – priceless!!

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  5. It seems like the whole world is living with increased violence, and in danger of nuclear war with two deranged people acting like spoiled children.
    I look at the resistance and know I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing your poem, John

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  6. Bravo! I find myself repeating the Tara mantra–Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha–and signing online petitions against the Troll-in-Chief. As Elizabeth says, right on, write on.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for a good comparison. Your advice helped me a lot.

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