New Religion

by Savannah Cooper

I have imagined leaving and being left.

Bags packed and shoved into the trunk

and backseat. A quiet that falls in a house

unused to absence. The dogs staring out

the window, studying each car that passes

and doesn’t slow. To keep a name like a scar

or let it fade. To stack all the things that no

longer matter in neat boxes and escort them

to Goodwill. To be solely my own again.

I don’t recognize the world without,

and I’m not sure I can learn the language.

But also: I don’t want to be her, the reason

you grow sour with age instead of softer,

the reason you scream at God in whispers.

A god neither of us believes in these days,

but we return to him nonetheless. Not in

sanctuaries or before altars, but in the unique

dark after midnight, the hush that follows

a long silence. Maybe he’s punishing us still.

We don’t believe, but these are the words

we know: sin and retribution, shame

and sorrow. Too old already to learn new

phrases, to understand that we can pray

to each other, our bodies the altar,

each touch a hymn.

Savannah Cooper (she/her) is a leftist bisexual agnostic and a slow-ripening disappointment to her Baptist parents. You can almost always find her at home, reading a sad novel or cuddling with her dogs and cat.

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