(or, after learning the catholic church once again refused to bless same-sex marriages)
CW: religion, homophobia
i. one day, when I am 8, I find the letters “FCC” spray painted all over the south wall of our church. “FUCK THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,” they clarify on the sidewalk. over and over, scrawled and screamed. I can’t stop thinking, dreaming about it. rewriting the words in the air on my way home.
ii. I look everywhere for God. my classmates pray silently, soft-smiling while they speak to Him. I look in every church pew, in every rosary bead, in every measure of every song of every hymnal. my knees constantly dirtied and purpled from how often I try to pray, from every time I hear nothing back. in the mirror, I see the devil. I breathe fire to warm my hands. even full of people, the church is stiffeningly cold.
iii. at confession, the priest beckons me to kneel, then pulls the sin from my open mouth. ribbons and glitter and paper dolls and feathers, all stolen from my throat. the priest tells me I am holy now. I taste the inside of my mouth and it is bland and empty, like salvation.
iv. one day, when I am 16, I fall in love. her voice is sunlight, she spins blades of grass into honey. I find god in her eyes, jade beetles dancing at my fingertips. when I pray, I am split open, leaking sweetened sap and flower petals from every orifice. I dream of her lips, singing hymns into my open mouth.
v. at confession, the priest beckons me to kneel, and pulls my god screaming from my throat. I heave dead birds and goldfish and snakes that whisper beautiful lies, and aghast, he tells me I am damned. I pray fifty our fathers and fifty hail marys and still the sin lingers in my blood. I stretch out my tongue to receive Christ and He slices it clean off.
vi. I beg for forgiveness from every holy face I can find. I am told I must denounce my heart, choose bitter, husk-like salvation instead. I refuse. I am told I was never good enough for God, for His church, and for the first time in my life, I wholeheartedly believe.
vii. my god is not in the church, but the ladybug. not the cross, but the dew-slicked backs of toads. my god is not hushed, ashamed prayer, but loud-screamed songs about pussy and sex and girls loving girls. and listen, my god formed all my fingernails, and my hair follicles, and every cell of my gay little heart. and my god loves me so much, every tear in my eye is filled to bursting with its love. one day, when I am several moons older, I will present god with my blessed wife, and it will be so pleased.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming in Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, Yes Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Wanda is the author of Melancholia (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021) and other chapbooks.