Church Bells

I stand at the entrance
of a parish with no doors,
wondering if I will be welcomed back inside.
I haven’t attended
an evergreen mass
in what feels like an eternity.
One step onto the forest floor
and twigs snap beneath
the weight of heresy.
My footfall echoes like
a hymn through empty steeples.
Two steps.
A sacred breeze cradles my face
I close my eyes and feel the rain
as it falls through the canopy,
baptizing me.
Three steps
and the fog rolls in
like billows of Frankincense
from a swinging thurible.

I take a seat on a fallen pew
at the river’s edge
and confess my sins
at the pulpit of pines.
Shedding my sediment
to the rush of holy waters.
I say a prayer as I run my hand
over rosary bark.
Fresh sap sticks to my fingers
anointing my skin.
Thunder rolls off the choir’s tongue
as I make my way back out
of the parish with no doors.
I hear the crow’s caw
as it echoes through the branches.
Church bells.
I have been forgiven.

Jillian Calahan is a poet and short story writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her four cats and two dogs. You can find her work in a variety of anthologies including The Story Behind The Poems Volumes 1 & 2, The Story Behind the Stories Volume 1, and The Poetry Marathon anthologies for 2020 & 2021. You can also find her on Instagram @novamarie_poetry

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