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
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.
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.