Lori Rottenberg wrote her poem, Heresy, when her children were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. She writes, ‘my husband and I were drowning in the daily tsunami of parenting and running a household. When time and sleep are both in short supply, it is easy to lash out at your spouse over trivialities. I wrote this poem out of gratitude that my husband, who is a naturally quiet and undemonstrative person, is also a strong, committed, and anchor-like partner who can withstand my moods and occasional dark clouds of doubt.’
You were my religion
but today I’ve lost my faith.
I wander through rituals
that were once joyous offerings:
food, babies, embraces.
I want reasons for these rites,
I want you to describe our theology.
But if in my penitent’s fatigue
I pause, I remember
I don’t know why
I want more words
when your eloquent tongue speaks
for quarter hours on my hidden lips
when the rhetoric of your hands
writes taut essays on my skin
when your everyday works are a speech
whose power convinces me
that love can be built
from a silent alphabet
only I can read.
Like any strong faith
you somehow withstand
Immune to doubts and weakness,
you know that belief and love are choices.
After my heretical clouds pass,
I realize the answer is always you.
Lori Rottenberg is a poet who lives in Arlington, Virginia. She has published in numerous journals and anthologies and has served as a visiting poet in the Arlington Public Schools Pick-a-Poet program since 2007. She was an invited poet in the Joaquin Miller Cabin Reading Series in 2002, a finalist in the 2006 Arlington Reads Poetry Competition, and a recipient of Best Published Award in the March 2009 issue of Poetica. She has worked as a writer, an editor, a non-profit program director on behalf of migrant farmworkers, and since 2013, as an academic English instructor for international students at George Mason University. She received her BA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Hamilton College and is also in her first year of studies at the George Mason University MFA Poetry program.