Two poems by Marianne Hales

gods and goddesses


I can’t remember when Heavenly
Mother’s limitless potential gets an asterisk,
maybe it’s when we start to fear
bare shoulders and that last inch
of thigh before the knee,
when we learn that women didn’t
(don’t?) pray in General Conference,
when someone says that a degree
is for if your husband dies
when you aren’t old enough to date yet.

Somewhere an old/young/middle-aged man
is reminding a Sunday school class that Heavenly
Mother needs protection from our prying
eyes, because a god can wipe out
a civilization but a goddess can’t
survive robust discussion. This is a hole
in my shield of faith: if I’m very, very good
someday I, too, can be an ignored deity.

In the meantime, the men will keep practicing
being all-knowing and all-powerful,
the women will practice being silent.

Stillness, before


Breathing in the tone
of the brass singing bowl,
my fingers splayed to keep
from cutting it short, I follow
the sound as it ebbs, like sunshine
at the end of a fall day just before
winter, when you don’t have any
to spare. The grey sky drips down
and I fall deeper and deeper into
winter but reach for the glint
of summer in the brass,
the lungful of air that will
make this beginning feel
like less of an ending.

Marianne Hales is a poet, essayist, and playwright living in Springville, Utah. She has been published in Dialogue, Segullah, and the Hong Kong Review. She is honored to influence writers at Brigham Young University and Western Governors University and co-founded Provo Poetry, a non-profit that brings poetry into the community in unusual ways, and Speak for Yourself Open Mic. She is also a member of the Rock Canyon Poets and the inaugural cohort of the MoLitLab’s Book Mentorship program.