In a weed-fogged room, a cross-legged supplicant petitions god, any god for mercy.
And it’s a miracle when the ground quakes and the winds come, spiriting him away. He’s cresting on iridescent clouds and flung into the dark, dark sky.
Where nothing lives, nothing breathes, nothing satisfies. Nothing devours deceit, nothing bears the pain of living.
This his prayer and he the priest. But I make the sacrifice.
You lay by the window, smiling weakly at the painting—the one of Jesus—his eyes on you. You whispered they were on me, too.
But his face was shrouded, hidden from me. He didn’t call me like he did you. I could never tell, never hurt you.
I kissed your papery cheek, grief’s saccharine taste on my tongue. We knew it was goodbye, but you didn’t believe it was forever. I wish I could feel the same.
The twisted oak hung over the creek—now barren but once brimming with rain. Deep in the trunk, a filthy box, a vessel holding the discarded, the things I no longer believed.
The ring, the letters, the photos hinting at disease.
I unfolded the paper and traced the verses. The ones that carried you through the darkness. The ones that strengthened your faith. The ones that made me lose mine.
I put the words in the box and buried them in the ground.