My mother always tells me, you’ve got to pick your gods.
She says this, leaning at a crow’s angle over a cup of coffee,
a glass of wine, through the oiled steam of a stir fried dinner;
from under the tumble of her quilted bedclothes,
voice muffled behind a peeling murder mystery;
shouted out the back door to the forest before the dead bolt
has been undone. If you worship false gods, she says,
your bones and your eyes and your mind will brittle
and fall away into nothing. I imagine her sometimes,
tending a garden of nothing, the grave keeper
of false god worshippers: either with her hair gray
and middle parted, short and severe, lips pursed
in a respectful red line as she tends, or with a long
white braid down her back that persists, swinging
over her shoulder and into the earth. Here, she weeps
and laughs and the weeds tremble. She salts the garden
which burns through the molten remnants.
She says, through the acid hiss of pain dissolving,
you’ve got to pick your gods.
Anna Laura Falvey (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based poet and theater-maker. In 2020, she graduated from Bard College with degrees in Classics & Written Arts, with a specialty in Ancient Greek tragedy and poetry. She spent her college career blissfully hidden behind the Circulation and Reference desks at the Stevenson Library, where she worked. Anna Laura has been a teaching artist with Artists Striving to End Poverty since 2019, and is currently serving as an ArtistYear Senior Fellow, teaching Poetry in Queens, NY where she is the resident teaching artist at a transfer high school. Her work has appeared in Icarus Magazine as well as in issues 15, 16, & 17 of Deep Overstock.