The Illustrated Life of Jesus

In my father's study, there was this picture-book
with oversized, colorful, slick leaves —
the story of Jesus, from the beginning,
but I found nothing good about him
when he was a kid, except that time
he showed up the priests
since he, being the son of God and all,
knew everything.

Nothing, I mean, about how it felt
having to keep it inside, like Superman —
Jesus losing over and over at leg-wrestling
even to the fat-assed neighbor kid,
pretending to sweat over homework —
or else the sheriff would cut him up
to find what made him different.

Did his mother tell him?
Over breakfast: "Your father's not the man
you think he is; he's God." Or did she whisper
in his ear at night, him drifting off to an old story
of shepherds, kings, and angels:
"You're not like the others," she'd say.
"You'll have to pay special attention."

In this book, he wore a white robe, like satin.
My mother had a blouse like that —
smooth and cool against my cheek —
and every time I read that book, I knew
that smell of satin in my mouth, that taste.

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