one. the smell of pines waft through the chapel window. you make sure to sit in the uppermost seat. it disguises a smell you needn’t put a name too.
two. you look out your bedroom window, and your eyes burn. you’re not sure whether it’s because of the stench of that river by your house, or the rising swamp that’s encroaching upon it.
three. you have five crosses just in your cluttered bedroom. your mama says “just in case”. she doesn’t answer when you ask why.
four. you pray, and blood beckons like an early warning on your tongue. the preacher hasn’t been seen in two weeks but you feel like someone’s watching you, just through the chapel cracks.
five. your mama says don’t you be going out after sundown. you watch from your window instead. you notice there’s not a sound. no birds, no wind. you shut your window. you feel like it’s already got in.
six. you read the bible, that crucifix a noose around your neck. someone is watching, it feels like welts against your back. like nails through your wrists, your feet. you’re getting a headache.
seven. you smell the frankincense, the sweet whisp of wine on the nonexistent breeze.
eight. you close your eyes, feel the river rising to your hips. just a little swim, you swear. you dip your fingers into the water. just a little swim.
nine. you settle a crown upon your brown. you’re not sure if it’s daisies, like you strung together, or those thorns your dog almost swallowed down. you’re not sure which would be better.
ten. you sit in the chapel, on the uppermost seat. someone is still staring at you, it feels like a wound right in your side. it stinks like frankincense. your wrists and feet itch. you can’t see for the blood.
— sinners need not apply // kel.