Rock Candy

Five rows down from the very front of the church,

I stand and add my voice

to the tonic triads coloring the air,

and the light breaks through the stained glass,

pouring red, blue, yellow, green in the hair

of those around me.

Light! Light!

Our vocal chords carry humble words

of joy through the shivering air,

and I feel ecstatically vulnerable –

like a turtle without its shell –

before the One who I believe is right there.


Later, on the bus to campus,

the girl beside me finds the light

above her seat won't work.

So she drops an f-bomb as

we speed ever closer back to school

(having just finished break).

And as I reply, swearing likewise,

I feel my armor begin to form.

Like sugar crystals

precipitating out of my bloodstream

onto my skin, tingling

as they crawl to the surface.

My other side emerges –

the one that will please everyone I meet

with its rock candy surface - 

very appealing, and maybe can deflect a tiny bit

of the negativity that eats away each day.

The crystals grow, multiplying and

encrusting my arms and legs

until I am fake.


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