Volume 69, Number 1 · Fall 2019


On the military base, we prayed the Rosary
nightly, and each night,

I fell asleep. The Sorrowful Mysteries
were my favorite.

Between decades, interruptions—

Between prayers were modern-day complaints,
seat belts, shoe laces, sudden

laughter that shimmered like apparitions

wedged between Our Fathers. I fell asleep
after the Agony

in the Garden, and I dreamed that my father
was Jesus. Nightshade flowers

circling him, and we, his family, were only
stone throws away. He begged

the Holy Father, in my dream,

to let him stay with us, to let him be

ours. I wondered if there were times
when my father felt the warmth of his

flesh more acutely
than others. The spirit is strong, but the flesh—

The flesh was asleep, and I wouldn’t
wake up until Morning.


And unlike my father, the rest of us spent
our years

sinning: My mother with her protectiveness,
violent streaks, her lipstick smeared against

our furniture. My brother and his smart lies,

And we all praised him, all of us laughing,

cheering. And me? I drew pictures of naked people
kissing and having questionable

sex, stored them in a book of sheet music
under my bed. My father found them—

He later found a receipt for a pregnancy test
in a plastic grocery bag. He seemed

almost disappointed when I told him it came
back negative. I wonder if he wished

there were another child

for him to save, because by then, I was gone,

I had made myself a heathen.


I love my father, his Catholicism.

I wish I were with him there, in the garden,
the grass at my knees, saying I am sorry:

I will never not be sorry for the ways I have
failed you, for losing your Heaven,

the only prize I should’ve inherited—

As the world fades, I stand beneath

the regressive sun on my street. The birds with
their paternal whistles. I listen for Jesus,

but I hear nothing, I feel only the ache

of my knuckles, the skin on my scalp, the joints,

the hair, the body,

which is all heathen, all mine.

Marianne Chan grew up in Stuttgart, Germany and Lansing, Michigan. She is the author of All Heathens, forthcoming from Sarabande Books in March 2020. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Cincinnati Review, the Indiana Review, West Branch, Poetry Northwest, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, where she is an Albert C. Yates Fellow.