Weekly Write: “Upon this Altar” by Gina Marselle

Upon this Altar

Upon this altar for healing,
I place the morning sun with prayers blessed
by my blue glass beads rosary.

Upon this altar for healing,
I place morning meditations—
breath exhales anxieties.

Upon this altar I place time.
The yellow tinged fall morning doesn’t wait,
as the hour passes my son wakes.
He begins his list of questions,
his almost five-year-old self doesn’t rest,
and his first question, “Is today a school day?”

Upon this altar I place husband’s snores,
thankful he is safe, loved, healing—a recovering alcoholic.

Upon this altar of healing,
I place my 17-year-old daughter’s ballet shoes,
her dreams to become a pediatrician or a ballerina.

Upon this altar I place newly learned guitar chords A and E,
sore fingers and encouragement. I place this dream of playing Bach
on classical guitar into reality.

Upon this altar for healing,
I place prayers that this stabbing pain I feel in my gut
will leave. Will find remission. Upon this altar I pray that
this newly diagnosed autoimmune disease will not win.
It is invisible to everyone, but my joints, eyes, intestines are attacked.
How do I fight something unpredictable like Mount Saint Helens erupting?

Upon this altar for healing I place hope
blooming with vibrant colors of teal and opal and red—
for healing breath, life and love.

Upon this altar of healing, I baptize water
from the Pacific ocean—purify it, drench this brittle desert land
into soulful breath, healing body.

Upon this altar, I leave my animal brain that wants to flee, fight, and freeze
for my human brain that reasons, plans, and processes and move from just surviving to mindfully LIVING. Before my autoimmune disease, I took for granted sips of my espresso, dark chocolate, salad drenched in blue cheese dressing, a simple pasta dinner—now food is my enemy. For three months now, a simple diet of rice, broth, bananas—
as I battle for health. All I drink is water. It sustains me. It gives me life. It is beautiful, truly. I’m here. I’m given a chance to fight, survive, live.

Upon this alter for healing,
I place my prayer, my thanksgiving, and my beating heart.

© Gina Marselle
Inspired by a Writing Workshop with Poet Jessica Helen Lopez
House on the Corner Worshop

Gina Marselle resides in New Mexico with her family. She’s a high school teacher, poet, and photographer. She has a full length published book titled, A Fire of Prayer: A Collection of Poetry and Photography (SwEP, 2015). Please find more information about Gina’s work at https://swimmingwithelephants.com/. Follow her on Instagram @gigirebel.



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