What London Gave Illinois

At 21, I toted my Mormonism with me to London
where I lived in a flat with gentle Mormon Brits.
They taught me blending in: speak softly, forget white socks,
smash peas with knife against the back of a left-hand fork,
stab meat palm down and calmly jab it up toward the lips.

They shared smart gospel testimonies in crisp accents,
long Häagen-Dazs walks in Leicester and Trafalgar Square.
But beyond their requests for Oreos and Jiffy Peanut Butter,
I’m not sure what I gave them. Still, the trade was fair.

To 30 Coleraine Road and a 31 year old
Northern Irish Mormon, I gave my hard cider chastity.
In exchange, he gave me black stirrup pumps
from British Home Stores for the feet of my new body.

I wore them shyly. I wore them to church—Britannia First.
Then I wore them home, clapping Decatur’s red brick streets.
I wore them in a blues bar and later slid them off like Illinois
in my childhood bedroom where I called that lisping boy
from Pana I’d always wanted and gave him the London in me.

2013

One Response to “What London Gave Illinois”

  1. eduardo says:

    Lyrical. Love “hard cider chastity,” slid them off like Illinois,” and “the London in me.” Of course to say one would wear stirrup pumps, “shyly,” is quite the image. As for in church, well where else but where “all things are made new”?

    Once again, what I like mostest is how the rest of the poem (its story) is what the reader brings to it, thanks to you leaving the door welcomingly ajar.

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