There are those of us

who have been exiled from the church

since the orange juice crusades of the late 1970s

Their slogan was “Save Our Children”

but it meant from persons like myself.

Two young women from small towns

were one day caught in the middle

of homophobic hysteria of a church

during Anita Bryant’s “Save the Children”

crusades of the nineteen seventies

Asked one to another,

“Should homosexuals be allowed in the church?”

and to that question the other replied

“Yes, certainly, and furthermore I just might be one

one who gave my childhood to the church

prepared for a vocation within it

only to have it turn its back on me”

Exiled from the churches of our youth

declared unworthy by our fellow man

We remain children of God

blessed in our hearts

with Divine Calling

Perhaps forever bearing the cross alone

while the chapel doors slam in our faces

Facing the streets of the city, anonymously

Alone, each of us, on our own

Wondering…is anyone else out there?

Is there a we, or is it just I?

Exiled from the land of the leaders

In the Temple of the Abiding Presence,

declared unworthy, a lesbian, a witch

who claims no membership to man’s church on earth,

assuming the alien position

the outsider receiving the prayers of the righteous family faithful

while perhaps not hated by them,

to become the convenient focus

for their own fears and unfinished business

The incarnation of the family secret

of their own genuine nuclear family shame.