Waiting for the Bishop

I was angry.
I felt hot and righteous.
I dressed my hips
In a black
Short skirt. “Too short,”
Said my sister-in-law. 

I must speak
to the bishop. The Bishop
Is my best friend’s father.
I put on what I thought would protect me 

I wait for the
Bishop. While I wait
I think
Guilt is a vein vice;
Dying would be easy,
Like going fishing

There aren’t enough hours in the day
To pray why did I let that boy undress my consciousness?
I am waiting for the
Bishop. Everyone has to wait for
The Bishop.

In this
Valley men thirst for
God, but women are starving
For anyone. It’s acid
Rancid bite existence. 

I have all but dried up
Thirsting for God;
My belly is distended,
Starving for anyone.
I bathe in acid rain
And bite my tongue
And bide my time. 

I desire power
My sex cannot assume:
Immediate revelation,
The laying-on-of-hands. The 

Bishop, he opens the door
And ushers me in. I lay
Bare for him;

My sins known,
My skin showing,
My trial. I accuse myself of
Heresy, apostasy.
I say
“ I cannot be your kind of woman.” 

We bash books,
We shake Psalms. 

We reach a stalemate because the Bishop is not God
Or John Winthrop
And it is not 1637. 

I leave triumphant
At our impasse. I am
Full from fighting,
Exotically free,
Inexplicably healed. 

buzz-cut the poppies

if you only watch one bee
at a time        you’ll see me
sorting myself as beans
you won’t see             winding vine  whole hive

you won’t see
my mother chewing on
her tongue     masticating    mouth            muscle
while crocheting leaper’s bandages
for the relief society
while I eulogize roadkill,
pining for divine cultivation

you won’t see how
every May my father buzz-cuts the poppies
like my four-year-old hair
if you’re lucky like                    me    and the east cherry tree
he’ll cut down second
if he loves you like                   his blue-box beehives
he’ll buy a new one of you,
no–two new ones of you
and plant you like his peach trees

you won’t see me sorting myself as beans
before school starts be
cause he will take out his teal suitcase
and put on his
temple tie
and he will give me  a father’s blessing

if you only watch one bee
you won’t see that to me
his register feels                 very far from a father’s
rather closer to god’s
who is a white wind       which whispers

you are a        peculiar pest
prescribed no priesthood promise 


Statement of Poetics May 2019

I have been called a writer as long as I can remember. In my mind, if anyone who reads is a reader, then anyone who writes is a writer. I am typing, thus I am writing, thus I am a writer. 

When I was 11, I wrote a 5-7-5 haiku which was put in an anthology of children’s poetry. It was the first poem I wrote, and the only I would write until I was 17. 

A few weeks prior to the start of my senior year of high school, I was sexually assaulted by my first cousin. Before I told a single person, I told poems. 

The trauma of my life necessitated a get-it-the-fuck-out-of-me poetics. My body and my mind needed a catharsis, so I joined the long parade of womxn who have used poetry to speak their truth to their world’s power.  Most of my poems could be classified as acts of speech, but to me they function as microscopic theratupic outlets to banish the neurotypical neuroses which plague me. Poetry is a friend I call upon when my consciousness cannot take any more steps; it is a way of thought which I have created and superimposed upon my own life, as a replacement for the strict religious doctrine under which I was raised. To me, poems are scripture. They are communion with the collective, even when they are written alone and read by no one. They are parts of myself I have committed to paper, they are moments of my mind which I feel the urge to dwell on, remember, or exculpate from myself. 

The poems in this collection are moments of my mind in which I vocalize what it is, and what it has been for me to exist in a woman’s body. In many ways, this is my poetics now: that of a woman’s body. 

Sariah Bunker
May 1 2019

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