/ Jennifer Chen (Writer), Allison Gable (Illustrator)

Poetry1 min reading time

Digital illustration of a stone church roof with two bells and a cross at the top.

The humming of the
cicadas reverberates
against the dry heat of
dusk, drowning out the

tolling of bronzed bells
from a church where I
once prayed for things
I couldn’t understand.

Back then, I would race
through lily-covered fields,
counting the stars after dark,
my tiny hands gripping

onto ash-dusted grass so as
to not drift away into the
heavens. The lilies used to
warn me not to fly away.

Back then, they would clip
our wings as we recited
commandments, lined up
in neat rows like Victorian toy

soldiers whose epitaphs
were already written:
Precious in the sight of the
Lord is the death of his saints.

But one day I let go
and untethered myself
from the earth and
its gospel symphonies,

fleeing until my stolen wings
melted under the August
heat. As I fell from the
yawning skies, the stars

veiled themselves in the
silken night, and I landed
amongst ivory lilies that now
shrink from my embrace.

The cicadas are weeping for
me, and the church bells
whisper that this is
no longer my faith.