Congregation

by Joan Mazza

After Church, in Sunday clothes, my country neighbors
gather at Obrigado and Mineral Restaurant for brunch.
They ask about children, sick parents, a lame horse
or missing hunting dog. They josh and joke, eat
country ham, fried eggs, grits, muffins. No disputes

about sermons, doctrine, or creed. The men, at their
own end of the table, speak about the national debt
and blame the president. No criticism of billions
spent on bombers, drones, so-called intelligence.
I came here longing for community, to be part

of potlucks, writing and women’s groups, where
appearance counts less than character, where people
speak their truth. Instead of talk of face lifts, fashion,
they marvel at how wet or dry the season, why
this year’s tomatoes are few and squash won’t flower.

My face is familiar in town. Bank tellers don’t ask
for ID. With no religion, no faith in the supernatural,
neither Isis nor Jesus speaks to me. I will not join
a church or temple, cannot abide another’s dogma
delivered with authority. I slip in and out of quilting

groups though my pieces do not fit. No husband
to complain about, no inside gossip, no children
with problems at school. Where is my community?
The fabric of my life repels certainty, can’t mend
gaps in connection. I’m still looking for my tribe.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach and seminar leader. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Cider Press ReviewRattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Permafrost, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Writer’s Digest, Emerge Literary Journal, the minnesota review, Personal Journaling, and Playgirl. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art. www.JoanMazza.com