“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” — Genesis 2:9
I grew up in holy water, and holy water grew baby’s breath between my ribs. I dreamt in hard, wooden pews with my fingers dripping from bathing them in the marble font at the door. I wiped them on my skirts, blood red plaid, matching knee socks damp with sweat. My dreams were smudged with stained glass— silhouette of the redhead who wept pearlescent tears over the nave. Her lips as red as the fruit of Eden, round like a pair of cherries. My palms lined with steps to an awakening waiting behind the dip of her robes. I dreamt we ran through the gardens together. She’d wear the face of the girl who walked in front of me in the May Procession, petals freckled through pigtail braids, the sky a bubble-colored beacon we wouldn’t follow. We were seven then, and I’d see her in the garden every May, her cheeks dimpled and yellow nail polish chipped on both thumbs. I’d dreamed that they were one, and so they became one. I’d weave my fingers through tulip stems and lay in the grass beside her, as if the only way to remember was to become the garden itself. I wondered if she dreamt of me. Sunday school taught me repentance, and I told God I’d stop the sin if I could stay in the dream. So, every night I fell asleep to see poppy red hair in sunlight, peach trees sprouting apple blossoms, daisies the size of closed fists. I’d collapse against her, swallow the garden and let the creek roll in my belly. Nothing was holy about the way I yearned, no prayer in the stillness that lingered when I woke up. Just the warmth of her skin, the tips of our ears blooming pink, a honeybee settling on my bare knee.
Shyla Jones is a Black writer from the East Coast. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Superfroot Magazine, a collector of nostalgia, and a Leo rising. Find her on Twitter @imnotshyla and read her work at shylajones.com.