Maya Williams (she/they) is a Black and Mixed-Race suicide survivor residing in Portland, Maine always writing and asking to give you a hug. She is currently a student at Randolph College’s MFA low residency program focusing on poetry. Maya has published poems in glitterMOB, The Portland Press Herald, Black Table Arts, Occulum, INTER, and more. She has also published essays in Rooted in Rights, Black Youth Project, The Tempest, and more. They are a Best of the Net Nominee and was a Better Together Coach as an undergraduate student for the 2016-2017 school year at East Carolina University. Maya has also been a recipient of IFYC’s grants to implement the intersection of interfaith dialogue and art on the page and off.
This poem is inspired by Baháʼí poet Anis Mojgani’s poem “Shake the Dust.” His poem is a call for so many different types of human beings to “shake the dust” and come into their own because of how there’s so much to admire about them. I created this poem as an expression of love towards religious and non-religious people to let go of imposter syndrome (shake that dust, if you will). There’s so much to admire about folks coming into their own worldview. As a Christian writer, I cannot separate my writing process from my faith (especially when I write my prayers in my private journal). There is a sense of sacredness and desire for a community when I engage in writing a poem similar to this one.
Religious Imposters *
after Anis Mojgani’s “Shake the Dust”
This is for the evangelist through actions
rather than words.
I see you.
Don’t let this be another poem you leave to hang dry
on the clothing line
and forget later.
To the monotheistic Hindus and Buddhists.
To the non-Kosher jews.
Let this be a poem that covers you the way you need it to.
A lot of disagreements can come out of various perspectives,
but let this be a poem where a part of you can be seen.
If only for a moment.
This is for the evangelical who is unsure about heaven and hell.
This is for the hijabi.
This is for the non-hijabi waiting for the right time to cover.
To the non-hijabi not requiring herself to wait for anything.
This is for the religious and non-religious agnostics.
To the Sikhs without long hair and turbans.
To the Jains who swat at flies.
I know you may feel like a religious imposter in your own spaces,
but I see you.
To the proselytizers and non-proselytizers.
To the LGBTQIA+ affirming theologians trying to love their siblings well.
To the feminist theologians trying to follow Scripture the best way they know how to,
not knowing how to fit in the faith among them.
I see you.
And I hear you.
To the religious and nonreligious scientists.
The seeking Pagans.
The irreligious and unaffiliated.
To the ones with and without rest on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.
To the identifiers of more than one worldview.
To the more I wish I could list,
forgive us for accusing you of cherry picking.
You’re only trying to find the best fruit for your labor
to put back into the world.
* Religious Imposters was previously published in Frost Meadow Review.