It seems I am no monk.

It turns out, I cannot sit with suffering

without saddling it with an ill-fitting God.


Who knows what tipped me over,

another Christmas and its neon grin,

the living dead at Wal-Mart

pushing their loaded carts through the aisles,

the class I taught on child soldiers in Uganda,

the way the Lords Resistance Army kidnaps boys

forcing them to beat another child to death. Each day

a new boy in the camp chosen.  I sat there, after the lecture,

wondering what happens to the body:

is it pounded like steak until it is limp and soft,

and how do they kill a child with such small fists and feet?

As the boy looks up through the pummeling does he

see a kind of God waiting for him, smiling?

Does he know instinctively, like the bee

and the hummingbird, how to find nectar?


I need to know -

one day, will it happen, will I swallow a God who can handle all of this,

my eyes watering as I hold Him down?

will the gasoline in my throat

turn to wine

and I feel warm and giddy,

sitting in the front pew of the Church of the Holy Light,

the sun’s giant paw resting on my back?


In spring,

my mother will die,

I will smell another impossibly thick

fist of cherry blossom.

When I take her body into the woods,

when I think I can’t take the loss, the light fading,

and I sink to my knees, will there be a God

hovering, or will a God surface from within? 


What I want is this:

after they lower her body into the earth

and I hear fear

whimpering in its crib,

I won’t believe my good fortune

when a God kicks in

and lets down His rain of reassurance,

and I sit in awe,

like the first time my milk came in,

and I lay there

in the moss,

my whole blouse sopping.


Adrie Kusserow was born in Underhill, Vermont, in 1966. At nineteen, she traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, and Dharamsala, India(home of the Tibetan government in exile), where she studied Tibetan Buddhism. She chairs the department of sociology and anthropology at St. Michael`s College in Colchester, Vermont. She has been to refugee camps in Kathmandu, Nepal; Dharamsala, India; and northern Uganda. She and her husband now work with Sudanese refugees in building schools in South Sudan with the New Sudan Education Inititative, Her first book of poems, Hunting Down the Monk, was published by BOA Editions, Ltd.(2002), and her first work of ethnography, American Individualisms, appeared from Palgrave Macmillan (2004). She won the 2002 Vermont Professor of the Year sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation and also the 2001 Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Prize Winner. She has been published in the Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, The Best American Poetry 2008, Green Mountains Review among others.