I and my Muther, Wunn

Over on the dirty side of town glimpsed between the red flashes of “don’t walk”
And barely visible through the steam spewing off of street drains
Leaned up against the neon sign of a pawn shop is a prostitute
Whose mother was a prostitute
Whose grandmother was a prostitute
Whose great-grandmother was a prostitute back
As far as they can recall
And she’s wearing the hand-me down wedding dress that fits her a little too well

And if you go down the right alleyways
You’ll find her prayers stenciled onto liquor shops like brick wall communiqués
Up to the ears of a still-listening God go her graffiti apologies

Confessions so painful they can’t be pretend
They get more vulgar until you reach the alley’s end
Where they run out of room and start climbing up the wall,

Climbing up and up and up until they turn into steeples
The spray paint colors into stained glass windows
Forming a sanctuary whose doors don’t close
She strides inside and waits at the altar in white clothes

And who should reverse the customary process and approach as her groom?
None, but a ruler whose purple train fills the entire room
How backward to see this promiscuous harlot married to a king
But as she mouths her vows
They resound as forgiveness hymns she sings

In the pews made of cigarette butts and beer cans
Every hard-backed row built by her own hands
Sits a throng of witnesses
And all of them can see she doesn’t deserve His graces

Their sense of justice so violated
It can’t be controlled,
That their arms are crossed like origami waiting to unfold
In objection to this unholy marriage
As they ask themselves who gave her the privilege

At this alter she doesn’t have a right to be
“But,” she says, “He proposed to me.”
And wedding wine never tasted so good
Full forgiveness flavored finer than it should

He leans down with a kiss on her brow
She tilts her weary head down
And feels the weight of a holy crown
Etchings along the inside
Read: “Child and Bride, In You I Abide”

And with whisper in her ear He is repeating over and over
I love you I love you I love you I love you
I love you…

The congregation cheers and rises,
But from the street outside the open doors of the shabby-made cathedral
A shout across the crowd breaks the joyous celebration
A man cursing as he swore
“You can’t hear the gospel from a whore!”
But in walked two daughters and then in walked a son
They placed their hands on the man with a smile and said,
“I and my mother one.”
(c) Marty Schoenleber III 2012
Music composed by Kevin Macleod – Wounded

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6 thoughts on “I and my Muther, Wunn

  1. Love this poem and have shared it with many. I did a query on the Augustine quote and stumbled upon your poem. So wonderful. What am I missing about why ‘one’ is spelled ‘wunn’ in the title?


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  4. Hey Jonathan, thanks for the question! I’ll give you the best answer I can. The poem is inspired by a quote from St. Augustine that goes like this: “The church is a whore, but she is my mother.” What he means is that although the church is full of hypocrites and sinners, it still accomplishes it’s most important mission–to tell people the message of the gospel. So, as a Christian, I should love the church, because without it, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t know what I know. I wouldn’t believe what I believe. I tried through the poem to create a visceral and colorful image to illustrate that quote. The last lines in the poem, “But in walked two daughters and then in walked a son / They placed their hands on the man with a smile and said, / ‘I and my mother one.'” are there as a sort of confession and a defense. Yes, the church is broken and dysfunctional and fails all the time, but God wanted the people that compose it. And because of that it’s not worthless. It’s still producing “children,” it’s still delivering the healing message of Jesus, it’s still a whore, but it’s my mother, and so I’m thankful for it.
    I hope that helps, thanks again for the question. I love to get these.

  5. Hey marty I love this poem and I think I understand it all but feel lost starting at the line “but in walked…” I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing the full meaning of the end of the poem with me.

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