THE BOOK OF

I have a book that I no longer believe.
I read it every few years to test the space
between certainty and doubt.

Four copies sit on my shelf,
the oldest from Wales,
with words I cannot read,
carried by an ancestor to Utah,
then along the dissenters’ trail
back across the Rockies and the Plains.
I see in it belief, the kind that lasts
even when outward forms become corrupt
and faith in man is lost.

My grandfather wrote his name in one,
though I doubt he ever read it.
When I was a sinless child,
I could not understand
how he could belong to the Church
and still smoke and drink and chew.
I am older now and know that life
cannot be read as neatly printed lines.

The copy from the missionaries
has all the same words,
but differs in chapter and verse.
Lightweight and easy to hold,
it has pictures for those for whom
thousands of words are not enough.

The copy I prefer to read
is a reprint of the original.
Chapters, no verses; long blocks of text,
with errors, just as it was dictated,
written down, and typeset,
the work of fallible men,
like me, trying to understand God.

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