Religion of One

When I was five, my dad misinterpreted 
that verse from Leviticus
about not cutting your flesh for the dead
as a prohibition against piercing your ears,

so I never did, and only in high school did I realize
I was following a religion of one –
and I wasn’t even religious.
Even my father eventually forgot
about his own radical interpretation.  
He never noticed when my sisters pierced, 
but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, 
just in case he might be right.  

I still treat my body like a library book on loan,
unable to get a tattoo, to smoke, 
to dye my hair, to lose my virginity.

All of this feels, at twenty-five,
like a giant antique chair in the middle
of an otherwise modernist living room,
too clumsy and impractical for the everyday,
too good to sell or throw away,
though I sometimes sit upon this virginal throne, 
my ears bruised from cheap Claire’s clip-ons, 
and I look down on the rest of the world.

© 2021 Jewish Young Professional

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash


I took an old draft and revised it for dVerse The Body & Poetry and belatedly for Ragtag Daily Prompt and Word Of The Day Challenge


  1. Love this. I never got my ears pierced either – first I wasn’t allowed to (though religion had nothing to do with it) and then later it somehow got all bound up in my conceptions of bodily autonomy and virginity and all that good stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I admire your honesty & sharing this reflection. I specially love this part:

    I still treat my body like a library book on loan
    and how you dsecribed it as:

    giant antique chair in the middle
    of an otherwise modernist living room

    Thanks for joining us.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Agree with all the comments. It’s a great poem and so beautifully expressed. A library book on loan. Buy it! Steal it! 🙂 I am being silly but own it and love it. At the tender age of 43 I look back on my twenties body with nostalgia. No varicose veins. And I am about to lose a breast to cancer. So try to shut out those niggling voices that try to tell you about yourself from the outside. Be a chair that you love and who cares about the rest of the decor!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love so much of what you have written here. I should note that I originally drafted this poem some time ago (I’m no longer 25, lol). Still working up the nerve to dye my hair a wild color. Maybe after job hunting, haha. But you are right. Life is too short to not live it up with your body! You only get the one, right?
      I am sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. I hope the surgery is successful. Wishing you good health and healing and a speedy, complete, and easy recovery!

      Liked by 1 person

    • My mom never bothered getting her ears pierced for my wedding (or my sisters’ weddings that followed years later). For that matter, neither did I.
      I wore a pair of clip-on earrings for a few hours of my wedding, but eventually took those and the heels off. You can only be in so much discomfort at your own wedding, you know? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s your body to do with as you choose. I never wanted to get my ears pierced then I was gifted earrings for my 21st birthday so I duly got them pierced and developed a nasty skin infection. I let the holes close up and haven’t worn earrings since!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like this very much. I can relate a bit in my own way. By the by, I never pierced my ears either; definitely a parental prohibition there… I’m not gonna get started. But I don’t see a need to do it now anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    My Featured Blogger this week is Jewish Young Professional, whose pithy poetry and often witty prose never fail to engage me. She is honest and down-to-earth, even confessional–which is all-to-rare a quality in our world today. Read on and you’ll see what I mean!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should clarify that my father wasn’t a hypocrite – he’s the most upstanding person I have ever met and he genuinely believed his interpretation (as did I). But I hear you that it’s definitely a challenge to navigate your own beliefs and practice while under the thumb of your parents. I hope you can find and follow your own path!


    • Point well-taken. I suspect it probably depends on the alteration. Coloring my hair might be worth it (I’d love to dye it some crazy color…maybe after job hunting/interviews though!) but smoking likely isn’t, you know? Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is funny how much that mentality sticks. I still haven’t pierced my ears or dyed my hair a crazy color, although I have always wanted to. The latter may change soon. I found my first gray hair and I’m not ok with it, so I’m going to start coloring my hair in some fashion!


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