Finding Religion

April is the cruelest month, a brutal reminder of what it is to want but cannot have, to need freedom but be restrained, to be conveniently feminine, summoning that version of her at their beckoning. And when she approaches, they criticize her leaning in with a past stained by ambition.

This prevalent obsession with piety is suffocating me with great white gloves. To think so much of life and death, sin and virtue, law and lawlessness, is to be sick — sick in the mind, body, and soul. To think yourself righteous is to be downright mad. Ask that peddling pauper pacing a plank in search of what he broke.

Am I the keeper of my destiny, my body, my presence? Avoiding an existential crisis in the driver’s seat, my center gripped like a magnet pulling inward, terrified of the suspecting eyes policing me dead in the quiet night of the California valley. I do not belong here; he does not belong here.

There we sat — I, brooding — testing the times and their power to act. And for the sake of his, their fragility, I am bound by a bruising mind that speaks nonstop and a twisted tongue that tries to comply — sneakingly slithering my way through this life, never seen and never heard.

We all love a tyrant; you know one, too. Sure, Daddy’s little girl followed cultural expectations with a few bumps, but I am not a perfect servant. Who conspired to design this woman I am to be?

You, you, you, are like April — the cruelest month choking me with memories of a past gnawing its way upward, possessing me to rebel, smashing delicate white elephants sitting so mockingly on ledges throughout my grandmother’s home.

How many of these have she and other matriarchs secretly broken and swept away or cunningly replaced? Still, they’ll mark me with a scarlet letter and convince themselves a brute has a purpose. And unable to free their hands of that stain, they’ll cast me down, down, down into the deep to atone for their sins.

Where, then, I ask, is my religion if not in the damning arms of another? Am I what he molded from clay, or am I a sorry fool for not making me first? Three minutes of blissful ritual and another three when deciding to pluck you from a tree.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

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Tiffany Patterson

Tiffany Patterson

Data-driven solution & information experience designer creating impactful, diverse, & inclusive digital experiences. Proud first-generation Caribbean-American.