Every Christmas I go back to my grandfather’s house,
Where the smell of biscuits drenches the room,
And Paula Deen cookbooks are visible to the overlooking eye.
It’s a Christmas tradition for my family
To gather around the fire—
In spite of the fire—
For me to dress as Mary,
Wrapped in white cloth and covered with a blue shawl,
To retell the story we all know
And all believe in
Do I still resemble Mary? Or is this just tradition?
I wonder now if He intended every verse to be a virtue.
Do you actually love thy neighbor
If you don’t believe that they should love each other?
Does that mean I’m not a follower
If I don’t follow blindly?
I remember sitting at awkward middle school lunches,
Surrounded by the clamor of ignorance and egocentrism,
And all I could hear was the clink clank of my fork hitting my bowl.
My best friend at the time
Ripped the cross off my neck
Because she said I should be more like her
And less like me.
I always wished I would become more like my friends
Or my family, for that matter.
Spend too much time with one,
And suddenly, the seesaw tips—
Detaches from the fulcrum.
I head to my grandfather’s pool,
And I tip my head back,
Keeping it underwater for
Ten, fifteen, twenty seconds.
Plunge, paddle, bathe, crawl.
If I don’t dive into either pool,
Do I even know how to swim?
Lauren Fountain has lived in numerous places around the world: namely, Atlanta, Houston, Singapore, and Pennsylvania. Often, her writing is a product of the conflicting and complementing ideals, values, and cultures of the experiences she has had. She is a student at Lehigh University, studying industrial engineering and finance. Her writing has been published in the anthology Up to No Good: A Chorus of Villainous Voices, and she is the co-founder and co-editor of Intangible Magazine.