Start by loving a God that lives
Inside the shell of a black beetle.
Now get a little older
And become a Jew
Who loves a God inside letters
That read backward on the page.
Older still and Christ comes
To teach some other version
That wipes us all clean
When we get dunked
In an above-ground swimming pool.
After, lick the plastic on the bottom
To remember what newness
tastes like. Circle back to the beetle
following a college mouthful of atheism
and revel in the way earth’s creatures
easily shift the spirit into
an understanding of holiness.
This is what happens when balancing barefoot on the branch of a live oak,
and while braiding Spanish moss.
But it also occurs while sleeping
in a city, dreaming of a river
where the water is so clear
that it will wash away
anyone’s name,
and no one’s hands
have to hold you under.

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JACQUELINE SUSKIN is a poet and educator based in Los Angeles. She is the author of three books, including The Edge of The Continent (Rare Bird 2018). Known for her project Poem Store, Suskin composes improvisational poetry for patrons who choose a topic in exchange for a unique verse. Poem Store has been her main occupation since 2009 and has taken her around the world. She was honored by Michelle Obama at the White House as a Turnaround Artist, and her work has been featured in New York Times, T Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and various other publications.

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