July Sunday at Silver Hill Baptist Church

My knees gather sweat
and aggravate
my unbalmed heat rash,
creeks trickle down
my calves, ardent hands
stitching crooked seams.
The window units broke
again so I’ll be scrubbing yellow
from my sleeve’s insides.

I lean away,
let the moisture dry
without staining
an egg in my best shirt,
salted polyester musk heavies,
women fan their faces
with a flutter of hymn pamphlets.

John 14:6: I am
the way and the truth
and the life.
No one comes
to the Father
except through me.

Itching nylons slide deeper
to my patent leather toes.
I uncross my ankles, tilt.
Momma wills daggers
into my periphery.

Flat back against the pew.
Momma checks me every minute
without moving her head,
Better girls never cough during prayer
and never let their skirts ride up.

We leave with a blessing.
We sigh Amen.
We stand.

I pluck my skirt from my thighs,
unglue my shirt,
our low heels tap down the aisle.

I get an earful of razor whispers
before we even finish crossing
the blonde grass
brittle as a twice-bleached wig.


Cotillion Failure

The sand remains in my pockets weeks after I collected that pink quartz, grains wedge under my nails, shards burrowing as if they could find an ocean in there. Cleaning it all out, I find a packet in my purse from last week’s half-price sushi, soy sauce dark as ink. It’ll live in the drawer with the others until I change apartments. You can’t catch fireflies or pick blackberries in white gloves so I taught my dog to bury my pair in the backyard. I learned to curse, read upside down, sew enough to patch and hide the stains on all my shirts. I can roll a condom but lack the patience and polite smile of a young lady, my eyebrows give me away. My mom’s attention to counted cross stitch wasn’t passed down by chromosome, I laugh like her but louder. My hips lead when I dance, my eyes closed and drowning. I never managed to finish a Jane Austen novel, but I pay attention to the fleur-de-lis wallpaper pattern, thrill to see someone waiting on a stump, dress still wet from the lake, coming home to mother.