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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