Poem: In These United States- The Court Supreme By Marie Cartier

We have nine justices usually but one of our most beloved, and notorious,

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, RBG, has gone to the Summerland, across

the Rainbow Bridge, to the afterlife—wherever that is for her, she’s

gone there. May her memory be a blessing. May her memory be a revolution.

And we are left with eight, five conservatives and

three liberals. RBG was liberal. Our current Pennsylvania Avenue occupant has already

nominated someone to replace RBG. This someone believes that god

speaks to the wife through her husband, the wife is submissive to the husband in all things,

she must submit in all things to her husband.

Sigh. As someone joked, this someone is walking through and slamming shut,

all the doors that RBG kicked open.

This nominated replacement believes that a woman has no choice in the matter of pregnancy,

and being gay is (once again) a sin in the eyes of the law, as well as her church.

This RBG replacement is Catholic, I guess.

I’m Catholic, too.

Maybe you’ve seen that meme on social media?

“I’m Christian. Oh…classic Jesus or Republican Jesus?”

That’s a joke: Ha. Ha.

My mother stood on the rectory steps

when I was seven with four kids behind me; there would be

a sixth later on, which tells you a lot about how this story ends.

My mother tried to leave my father…

that tornado who blew into the house and almost

blew it down. Dinner thrown against the wall.

Kids thrown down stairs. And I will always

remember seeing our cat, Blackie, held by the neck, and

my father’s foot kicking her and her sailing

across the lawn. She lived, but I now know why

they accept animal x-rays in domestic

abuse trials today. Oh RBG, you saw my family way before I did. 

RBG’s dying wish was that she not be replaced until the next hopefully new

President was elected.

The priest asked my mother if she would rather

never see her children in all eternity if she left my father…because

she would go to hell if she got divorced.

Or would she rather stay married so

that she could see her children later, forever, in eternity, and therefore…

she should stay with my father.

I stopped talking to my parents when I was thirty, and never saw my mother again– alive.

The last time I saw her she was in a coffin. I was fifty-nine and my father yelled at me

during her funeral mass, What the hell are you doing here?

Will we see each other in eternity, Mom? I don’t know.

Was it worth it? I don’t know that, either.

My mother said later when I was older, when I became a feminist,

when I was a member of the late 70s Women’s Liberation

Army (whatever miraculous-ness that was)

…if I’d had known back then, what I know now…

And she never finished that sentence. What Mom?

Would you have left? Gone before all that happened between when I was seven and

when I was eighteen and when I then …left? Would you have left before all of that?

If I had known then….

My mother marched with me in a Take Back the Night March

against domestic violence before I cut off contact with her, before I remembered everything.

Before forgiveness was not a trade we could make for my silence. For her complicity.

When I started talking about what happened in that white house

with the birch trees in the front,

and the green shutters on the windows looking out,

she wouldn’t let me talk about it without interrupting, without saying,

Oh, Marie, I have to forgive myself.

That didn’t happen. How could that happen? Of course,

that didn’t happen.

You can’t forgive if someone doesn’t admit it ever happened.

And it took me so long to re-member

my self. I’m still terrified of forgetting

her. Again. And again. I don’t use forgiveness as a balm for sin.

As a remedy for cruelty. As an excuse for danger.    

Who are we in these United States?

ntozake shange wrote, i found god in myself and i loved her. i loved her fiercely.

It is no accident it is my favorite quote of so many

from that power place of 70s feminism.

i found god in myself. No man is my god and, in any case, I have no husband.

I have a wife and she is not my god. I will never have a husband.

Then who is my god?  This time to write?

This day? This cat? This dog? This pen?

This blank page? I worship you.

This electric light? This hand resting on this pillow? This latte?

This life I have built, yes, with this wife? I worship you, this life.

This address of my body, upon which I have built sixty years? My own god,

my survivor self? My breath in and out? I worship you.

i found god in myself.

I want to know how in these United States that a woman who fought three kinds of cancer

until she was eighty-seven to stay alive so that the court supreme would not become a super

majority of conservatives and died with one dying wish of not being replaced until

a new president was elected…can be ignored?

Because the day after she died the current “president” said

he would “move quickly” to replace her.

Where was god in the Holocaust we asked in grad school? I studied process thought

which answered, god was in those who fought back.

Concrescent creativity is the ability to enter the cauldron of the present moment

and come out with something new.

If god is in every person, is god in me? I asked Sister Veronica in second grade.

Yes, she said.

Then I asked, If God is in every person then god is in me, right?

Yes, Marie.

Then… is god a woman?

My eight-year-old self, wanted to know.

Marie, she said, there are some mysteries

we are not meant to understand.

A cosmology of not understanding. An eschatology of uncertainty.

A tornado of rage.

This is what I know. This pen. This paper. These words.

This hand. This voice.

I worship you.

This simple act of pen to paper. A god of my understanding.

Fighting back against oppression. This legacy we have.

This can be my Higher Power,

my spiritual center, my god. I pick up

RBG’s dying wish as a mandate: may it be so.

May your memory be a revolution.

Yes, I am a Catholic.

Jesus fed the poor, honored someone who today some might call a prostitute,

washed the feet of others and threw the wealthy from the Temple.

RBG was Jewish. So, this is not really about RBG or really even Jesus. And religion

should have nothing to do with the court supreme.

But if you do believe in the Bible, or at least its words…and if

you want to hold your hand on it and swear an oath…

Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.  


Yes, I am a Christian.

Classic or Republican Jesus?



–Marie Cartier
October 2- October 18, 2020
In These United States


Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.


Categories: Abuse of Power, Activism, Ancestors, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Family, General, Justice

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10 replies

  1. Wow. I felt all the emotions. I cried for your mother. I share your trepidation. Powerful. Peace to you and yours. We are in this fight together and for the long haul.


  2. Yes, thanks so much for standing with me. ♡ peace to you and yours as well.


  3. An incredible post, Marie Cartier, the choice of your words is just beautiful, I admire your talent of writing where you exactly express your emotions and your fight for women’s power. This fight will probably never end, yet we are all together with our strong minds. Thank you from my heart for sharing your powerful words.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow can’t wait for the election- hope she’d be proud.
    Deep memories these days-
    very candid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks for posting! i think she, RBG, is proud of us– of all the activism… and she’s devastated by the turn in events of her replacement!. i hope she’s doing activism on the other side <3 to somehow invalidate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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