by | June 8, 2021

Amen tastes like church cookies: crumbly,

stale, hauled out of cardboard boxes,

old man’s fingers with popping blue veins

beat her to the chocolate ones. She is always

surprised when she remembers

Sundays in this golden haze, edged in maroon,

the smell of mahogany –

She breaks off the memory like snapping a bone.

Not mine. She pleads. Not mine.

Not mine, not mine, not mine

Not mine.


Faith, it is said, is not learned but budded

inside of you. A seed planted

in the sound of her mother’s voice, which grew a

Garden of Eden in her limbs, on Friday

mornings when God was a man drawn in purple marker;

whose ink bled through the paper, staining

her palms with the cartoon picture of the Red Sea

on page 233 of her illustrated Bible; read like a

bedtime story, for ‘God so loved the world’

was a bulb, not a fairytale.

She pries up her veins and prunes back her limbs –

Not mine. She begs. Not mine.

Not mine…


She ate the fruit of her body; ate her brain.

It was forbidden, but she bit it. Gnawed away

the bridges between the neurons that

spelled god: God.

And she blames the lord’s prayer

for the hate that simmers in her stomach when

her grandmother gives her twenty dollars and god’s love

at the bottom of her eighteenth birthday card. Now

god is a man dying in her grandfather’s green hospital

gown and all she can think

is that he looks like a turtle crawling back

into his shell: the heaven promised

in every Sunday school rhyme –


She wishes she hadn’t thrown away prayers like old shoes;

that there was something left to be claimed as



Words by Kalli Dockrill. Art by Sasha LaCômbe.