And To Dust You Shall Return

by Imogen Usherwood | November 15, 2023

My class has a test on Thursday, but
today is Wednesday, and I am sitting

in the Lady Chapel, and thinking sinful thoughts,
and listening to a man who is brought in

twice a term to say Mass (apparently God isn’t keen on women
speaking in His house), and I am quietly memorising

my index cards on late medieval foreign policy.
I have used five different shades of pastel highlighter

and drawn little stars by the most important dates.
The Chaplain (a woman, with God’s approval)

has seen my notes and shot me a look. So, now,
I am pretending to take an interest in The Book of Psalms

which happens to be about the same size
as two index cards laid next to each other.

I am thinking about kissing girls, and the Cosmological Argument
and about a book I quite liked that was set in Hell:

things that would upset the Chaplain more
than six bullet points on the Treaty of Étaples.

The choir exhales as one when the man stops
and we start a schoolgirl queue. On my turn, he

smears charcoal on my face, and tells me to repent
for things my teenage body hasn’t done.


Words by Imogen Usherwood. Art by Emilia Hesler Osztafi.