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.
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.