We shared a hymnal,
pulling a pink ribbon
through gilt-edged pages
where our fingers touched.
The congregation’s mouths
formed ‘o’s as everyone
inhaled at once, voices
echoing through the neighborhood.
We snuck out early. Nearby houses
wore sweaters of thick rain,
the grass was slick with moldy leaves,
black walnuts rocked beneath our feet.
We tripped into a nearby park—
under catalpas
where neighbors sat and read
behind yellowed drapes
in corners of late autumn.
At fourteen, it was my first time
and my second. It did not seem
superfluous—not with cold
rain fine as sand, with leaves
twisting on thin stems.
Perhaps I knew
as car lights shined in our clothes,
spirits followed us,
as we were told.
Cement-gray clouds
pulled like gathered silk,
revealing bare nightsky
and all light’s pathways,
new stars and constellations
burned into our skin.