This poem from the archive, which was published in the Spring 1988 issue of The Graham House Review, has been on my mind lately as the incoming Trump Administration has announced its cabinet picks, with “End Times” Evangelical Christians among them. I was raised in the Armenian Evangelical Church, and a copy of Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth was on the end table next to my father’s armchair. As a child I had been coached to ask Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior, but I was never entirely convinced that my attempts had been successful (I have a poem about this experience as well). One New Year’s Eve I went to church with my grandmother where we watched a film that enacted what would happen in the during Christ’s Second Coming. Fortunately, the movie didn’t cover the more terrifying aspects: The Tribulation, the Anti-Christ, or Armageddon. It just showed The Rapture, the taking up of believers. A pilot disappeared from his seat in the cockpit. A man rolled over in bed to find his wife gone. A Christian singer disappeared from a performance on a television talk show, the microphone fallen to the stage floor. “The Rapture” was an account of the fate I had envisioned awaiting me.
I imagined coming down the back walk
after school, swinging my lunch box
and the thermos shifting inside.
Today was different, something odd
about the light breaking
from behind the clouds in ribbons.
My grandmother was not on the back porch.
The kitchen table was spread with flour
and dough rising under its towel, dirty bowls
in the sink, my mother nowhere to be seen.
And then I knew: the Second Coming.
Jesus had taken them, the believers,
from the fist of the heart to the tips
of the fingers and shining eyes.
The whole family, snapped up
in broad daylight while I walked home,
uninvited, unasked, abandoned.
I sat on the back step with the cat,
another unbeliever, waiting for the Beast,
the bloody water, the Tribulation.
December 13, 2016