I Am the Embodiment of Infinite Possibilities (First Corinthian Baptist Church)

A few thousand people (yes)
wait in line for the third service
of the morning, at the Black Church in Harlem
where my South African daughter in law
Chesray Dolpha, attends most Sundays.

I am not a stranger
to religious institutions
that aren’t mine.
As a child I often asked
friends to take me with them.
In a way this exploration
is one of the ways
we can know one another.

Most of us want our selves
replicated by our children,
our values mirrored and reinforced.
We are afraid of difference.
We want proof that we have passed along
the right tradition
set of beliefs. That we were right
in what we lived and what we knew.

We get stuck in our own dogma. I can sound
all knowing and absolute,
but about almost everything
I’m unsure.

When our son fell in love with
an African woman from Capetown
I didn’t know what their life would be.
Different from mine. But how?

At Chesray’s church, everyone’s
embraced at the door. The service
is lively and loud. People
shout out. In front of us a very tall
black drag queen in a sequined dress
waving her funeral home fan.
Behind us three older women
from Milan. Many people dance.

We leave and go to brunch.
I am entirely familiar
with brunch. We sit together
Chesray and I, two women
separated by what we know,
by what we learned as children
and we order our coffees,
our Sunday eggs,
each of us knowing
that difference and hope
are sisters.

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


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