Illegitimate | Part I and II

Part I

You don’t belong
here, ever,
and leaving
fingerprints

on the doorjamb. How
did you get
in? Who lifted the
latch? Look,

nobody wants you
here. You
weren’t invited.
Better hide

that part of you
they hate, call
Polack, laugh at. No,
you can’t conceal

eyes, hair, skin. That’s
ok. They’ll say you
got them from
your other

grandpa. Let them.
Hide the part of
you that
reaches back,

digs for roots, water,
food, slice of
you that needs
sometimes dreams.

Better yet, kill
it. Bury it.
Forget it. Let it
disappear. What’s

fifty percent of
nothing? He gave
your name
away, to his

legitimate son. Change
yours. Then maybe
what’s left can
live. Not a whole

life, but a half
life, a quarter
life, a little wisp of
something like a

life. Better than no
life. Maybe. Better
for everyone?
Maybe. After

all, you wouldn’t
want to get caught
trespassing. Better
to pay the price

now: Just a half
life, please. Just
your birth name,
please. Just his

DNA, please. Just
a little death,
please. Leave your
blood on the

altar and no
footprints
as you
go.

Part II

you belong here
and leaving fingerprints
like miniature mazes
on the hallways of My
heart, every twist and
bend leading to

you, My home
and I, yours
here, darling, here
a place to rest your head
eyes, hair, skin, no need
to hide from Me

child, hide in Me
dump your sack of
broken bits, every sliver, slice,
on the dirt floor, let them
settle, sink, rot,
root and become

shoots, vines, leaves,
summer berries
undreamed dreams
words on pages of untold
stories, and a stone,
smooth, singing

against your palm
the song of your name
yours and no one else’s
resounding through your flesh
ringing through your veins
calling green up up up

yes, you belong here
fleet-footed, kicking up
dirt and grass, like
honeybees scattering new
beginnings beneath the
Living Tree, beneath

the Giving Tree
beloved, leave footprints
anywhere, everywhere
you go, you’re
home

© Nichole Q. Perreault

“I am noisy, full of the racket of my imperfections and passions, and the wide open wounds left by my sins. Full of my own emptiness. Yet, ruined as my house is, You live there!”

Thomas Merton

under water

it’s still
     dark in here
     and sometimes the darkness
still wins

i think
     maybe this time
     the darkness won’t
get me

won’t scare
     me, won’t wear me
     down, but this darkness is slick like oil
and spreads

on me
     before i
     know it, stinging my eyes
my throat

i jump
     into the deep
     end, to stop the burning, to
escape

it’s dark
     here too, and
     heavy, all this water
crushing

but i
     remember i’ve
     learned something new, i’ve
learned how

to breathe
     without air, without
     love, without hope, I’ve
learned how

to breathe
     under
     water

© Nichole Q. Perreault

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

thank you
words that burn
an offering
bound in rope
pulled tight
laid upon the fire
like a lamb
or Isaac
costs me something
as if my flesh
were on the flame

a lonely leaf
scrapes down an empty street
where all the doors are
locked for winter
behind them
faces that I long to see
hands I cannot touch
clouds that shroud the stars
make a lousy blanket
I pull my scarf over my ears
and hurry home

home
glows like a box lantern
on the little hill
the door
this door
opens for me
air warm as
wind over hot sand
rushes out onto the stoop
throws its arms around my shoulders
pulls me inside

unwrap the scarf
take off the boots
set my bitter feet before the hearth
between chattering teeth
I breathe
words that burn
and turn my hardened heart
to weeping like wax
beneath a flame
I offer
thanks

© Nichole Q Perreault

Photo by Timon Wanner on Unsplash

Nothing But A Moon

Inspired by “Half Moon Makes Full Halo” by Jakusho Kwong

The moon is nothing
but a moon
Cold and colorless
Her gravity barely holding the feet of men
to her dry and dusty shores
Barren
She wheels round and round the earth
On a path she didn’t choose
While gazing down upon that celestial spring
That spinning womb that
Gives birth to trees and snakes
and little league

The moon is nothing
but a moon
Reflecting only another’s fire
She doesn’t burn or even turn
Her head
Part of her always hidden
Always facing away
Her far side1 never seen
by earth-eyes
Half-shadowed
She still kindles trees and snakes
and valentines

The moon is nothing
but a moon
And yet
Her being
Just her being
Is weight enough to stir the waters
Call forth hidden springs
Just her pushing, pulling
Presence
Steadies the spinning womb
Midwifes trees and snakes
and birthday cakes

The moon is nothing
but a moon
And yet
Even on her far side
The sun still shines
Limning mountains, filling craters
Silvering sands that
None will ever see
In her hiding place
The moon is gleaming
Bearing beams of love2 for trees and snakes
and cups of tea

© Nichole Q. Perreault, September 2020

1The moon has a “far side’ not a ‘dark side’.

2 The Little Black Boy by William Blake

Header Photo by David Dibert on Unsplash

Belong

You can’t fly a kite without strings
But you can watch it spread its wings
Soar and dip, gently fall
Swoop high over the garden wall

You can watch her spread wings
Your love was just an offering
Leaning there on the garden wall
You let go of all you are

Your love was just an offering
Like a nightingale song, or a church bell’s ring
Yet letting go of all you are
Something slowly fills your heart

A nightingale song, a church bell’s ring
We can’t hold on to anything
But let the star-wind fill your heart
And with open hands, belong

©️ Nichole Q. Perreault, August 2020

img_1508

The month of August in the 2020 calendar by Jess Franks*: https://www.jessfranksart.com

*One night, while searching for inspiration for a submission to my monthly poetry group**, I paused to meditate on the Jess Franks calendar that hangs by my bed. Butterflies have been on my heart a lot lately, but it was her two line poem that really caught my attention. BAM! Suddenly the spring opened and there I was at 2:00 a.m. scribbling away. Jess’s art is great example of how inspired creativity is like a mountain spring, or a deep well, a gift that keeps on giving. 

**As part of our poetry group prompt for August, this poem loosely follows a form known as Pantoum, a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.

Inseparable, Free

(a paraphrase of Psalms 23, 73, 91, 139 and Zephaniah 3)

Where can I go to get away from You?
Where can I run, that You are not already there?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there
And if I descend to the depths of despair
Even to the grave, there You are

You are with me when I am flying high, soaring through life
But if I land in an unfamiliar place where no one knows my name or speaks my language, still You are holding on to me

If I grieve and weep and wail with bitterness in my heart
If I stand before You like a brute beast, acting without understanding
If I throw a tantrum like a spoiled child
Or hide under the table trembling in fear
If I shut You out like an angry teenager
If my body fails me
Or my mind becomes weak and I cannot even remember You
Nevertheless, You are with me
Your right hand will hold me fast

You have shattered glass to rescue me
Shaken mountains
Torn down walls
To get to me
To set me free

As the song goes, “You don’t give Yourself in pieces”*
So I won’t give myself in pieces either
and “You don’t hide Yourself to tease us”*
So I won’t hide myself from You

Actually, not even darkness can hide me from You
You see through every darkness
Even the darkness of my heart
Even the darkness that hides in darkness
You see the real me

The spark of my soul rests in Your heart
Untouched by human hands, my being hides in You

I will rest in You like a baby bird beneath the shadow of her mama’s wings
Even in the presence of my enemies
You will feed and nourish my soul
You will sing to me with joy

We are one
You and me
Inseparable, free
Your love will never let me go

©️ Nichole Q. Perreault

*Song lyrics from “Pieces” by Amanda Cook

Thanks to Andy Willis for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

The Dream

You are the dream He dreamed
He dreams
the song He sings
when the whole world sleeps

You are the whisper in the wind
wonder hushed
on angels’ lips
a secret He keeps

You are the gift He gave
He gives
the life He lives
in the depths of the deep

You
are the dream
the act, the scene

You
are the masterpiece
penned without ink

You
are the ballad
sung by the trees

You
are the mystery

You
are the dream

©️Nichole Q Perreault

https://unsplash.com/photos/2q6C5zDJOsg

Into the Unknown

The contemplative spiritual journey is a journey into the unknown. The more I know God the more I realize how much I don’t know about God. This can be frightening and frustrating, or we can allow it to fill us with wonder and awe. The mystics refer to this as The Cloud of Unknowing. We are all called, like Abraham, into this unknown and it is there in this cloud of unknowing that we experience God in pure spiritual faith.

Kure Beach Pier by Nichole Perreault

Yet few of us want to step into the unknown. In fact, in my experience, “knowing” is one of the pillars of the western evangelical Christian tradition. We are taught that we can know God, know our destiny, know the Bible, know how to pray, know right from wrong, know God’s will in everything. We know so much there’s no room to wonder, doubt, question or debate.

Continue reading

Playing Potter

Photo by Ricardo Mancía on Unsplash

trapped behind these
one-way eyes
inside
the lies we wear like make-up
spread thick
slick
with a spackling knife
layer slapped
on layer

we play Potter
with counterfeit clay
covering lines and
carving new ones
making mud masks
that bury us alive
that harden
into barrel helms
heavy
on our heads

necks bent
beneath the weight
of myths we can’t remember
shoulders hunched
around our hearts
a blockade
gazes fixed
on fingers

we can’t even look each
other in the eye anymore

Would it matter if we did?

© Nichole Q. Perreault, July 2019

This poem was written in response to my poetry group’s July prompt “differences”. The first line popped into my head and inspired the rest of the poem.