What We Do / Immaculate Conception – by Bill Pruitt

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What We Do

We want to be loved for who we are,

for what we do,

not for our talents or skills, for what we do is

who we are but if

others don’t pay attention,


They might think that what we do is fill out the blank

spaces in their lives with our talents and good looks and skills

when what we are actually doing

is making moving holes in their world composed of neither self nor other.


Unless they love us skillfully

they might want us to reassure them they exist

but how could we do that


I’m not just

talking about being someone else but this whole thing

the big bang whose hum you can still hear if you listen close

the wise woman knows that she does not know about me

until she puts me before her. And there I am. There’s no

hierarchy here, no linearity, no deference.


The best we can do in this world

is to put others before us

even when

they pretend we’re not here

or that we’re here to fill

the blank spaces in their lives.

If they deem

our constructions unsatisfying

it’s probably because

they haven’t yet guessed

that’s not what we do


Immaculate Conception

The Pentecostal stepped out one bright

Summer morning, and thought, Why couldn’t

God make it rain forty days and forty nights?

Why can’t  the secular mind accept the possibility?

Because Science is a failure of imagination!
Yet Darwin imagined deeply how the land subsided
On which the coral reefs were formed.
He observed effect and wondered cause,
He and his mistress Nature working backward
Through unfolding intimate time
They both cried in fear her father was dead.
They kept on together, risking disapproval,
Keeping their discoveries semi-secret,
Until they found she was not an orphan,
But immaculately conceived,
Or as immaculate as anything could be
That came out of the muck with

Winking eye and darting tongue,
Promise body fecund, fierce, chaotic…

Anyway, turn’s out the Pentecost was right:
The common wisdom that we got here by evolving
Is a failure of imagination.  The more Darwin’s mistress
Has been separated from God, the less respect she gets.

It’s just that Noah’s Ark no longer floats.

We’ve always been here,

Telling stories, but try to tell

The same story twice.


Bill Pruitt is a fiction writer, storyteller, poet, and an Assistant Editor with Narrative Magazine. He has published poems in such places as Ploughshares, Anderbo.com, Off Course, Stone Boat,Otis Nebula,Literary Juice, Visitant and Cottonwood, two chapbooks with White Pine and FootHills. He has performed his original story, “Two Kinds of Fear,” a completely documented telling of the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass at various venues in Rochester. His short stories appear in recent issues of Sicklit, Crack of the Spine Literary Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Midway and Hypertext. He taught English to non-native speakers for 26 years. He and his wife Pam live in Rochester and have two children and two grandchildren.

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