Bring Me the God of Mrs. Garcia by Susan Kelly-DeWitt

 

“Bring Me the God of Mrs. Garcia” by Susan Kelly-DeWitt

 

The thread was flame-colored, like vermilion flycatchers she once sketched in the countryside near Buenos Aires. Portugal snipped a length and smoothed it with her plump fingers. 

The sharp she would use, one of her mother’s good golds, weighed less than a hummingbird’s feather. She slipped the floss through the needle’s eye and thought of the rich man in the parable; she pulled the thread through until it caught at the knot. The thread was too fine and bright for the dull black button Portugal was about to sew onto her brother’s old work shirt. She focused hard on the small disc: It was a millstone. Abruptly, she smiled a sly smile. 

Ha! 

The tiny nubs of thread holding the button to the shabby cloth winked like poppies from their drab center. 

She pulled the thread taut and thought of her brother hauling in cod at the dock. She saw him bend and stretch and pull against the slippage in one arduous motion that blended cruel tedium with grace, like the figures she’d seen in a book of paintings by Goya. 

Is that how God sees my brother? Portugal wondered. Does He look down from His Throne of Glory upon the hump of my brother’s laboring back? And what if it is true, as Mrs. Garcia insists, that God is a woman

Mrs. Garcia was considered a wild one. She looked wild, with a shock of red wire parted at the center for hair, her breasts flying free under her flowered jerseys. She wasn’t afraid to walk around with fresh chicken blood on her apron, or to prop her rough hands (with their painted fingernails!) against her wide hips and shout at her husband in front of the other men. 

Mrs. Garcia’s God would certainly notice her brother’s reattached button and the four tight buds of fire-color at its center. Perhaps She would think he was wearing four tiny bouquets—four garnets, four bright chips of carnelian. 

And this She-God might even appear to her brother as he slept—glide in through the window, wearing a cape of vermilion feathers. She might pluck one feather and leave it on his pillow for good luck; he would wake the next morning with wonder in his eyes. Portugal would be able to discover that wonder there whenever she wished. 

But if God is a man after all… 

An old man with a flowing beard, a fake smile and a rod called Judgment. An implacable God who loves the cliff-face, the basalt and granite rocks… 

This God would see her brother straining against the haul of the nets; He would notice the tight knots of muscle at his neck, his bone-weary expression; He would smell the stink of dead fish, feel the bite of icy wind on her brother’s rough cheeks, and He would approve. 

Previously published in Voices 2022, Cold River Press

 

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Susan Kelly-DeWitt Artist Statement:

Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of ten previous poetry collections, including The
Fortunate Islands (Marick Press, 2008.) A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, her
work has appeared in numerous journals at home and abroad, and in national
and regional anthologies such as The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary
American Poetry (Autumn House Press) and Highway 99 (Heyday Books),
among many others. She has been featured at Wordstock, and on Writer’s
Almanac, Verse Daily and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. She is also a
member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Northern California Book
Reviewer Association; her reviews have appeared in the Sacramento Bee,
Library Journal, Poetry Flash, Small Press Review among others. For more
information please visit her website at: www.susankelly-dewitt.com

 

Author: A Room of Her Own

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