By Sarah Arnett
We are golden girls tarnished.
We pick chokecherries in the fall
and roll them around our tongues.
They taste like burnt edges
These trees are anemic, she says.
That’s why the fruit tastes so shitty.
Forgive me, Lord, she says,
I didn’t mean to say that.
Anyway, the oxygen can’t flow right
because their veins are clogged up with
pollution and smoke.
She twists her rosary
into the shape of a double helix.
I nod and pretend to understand.
We’re all made out of carbon,
she says to me,
putting on her Sunday dress,
curling her eyelashes with a safety pin.
Did you know they put fish scales in mascara?
There’s dirt in our eye shadow too.
Our fingers dig into that same soil,
looking for roots,
for absorption, aeration, anchorage.
It turns out we are stained saints,
Our veins are clogged up with stained glass
and chemistry textbooks.
We drip gospel tears.
We are living off of a phosphate faith.
Add a few nitrates
to make our coronary arteries dilate.
Drop in more phosphorus for strong
bones and teeth.
I wonder if there are neurochemicals
to strengthen faith.
I think on the day he made us,
God ran out.
Because I know her lips seep fool’s gold,
iron pyrite when she talks about the drunken clash
she tried to arrange between herself
and the train tracks as though it’s not a miracle,
as though her spine healing afterwards like Lazarus rising
was an everyday medical cure.
Blood and wine have different compounds,
but water can’t wash either out of a hospital gown.
She smells like lavender and rubbing alcohol.
She spits out the chokecherry seeds like Latin phrases
and the Lord’s Prayer--
they all roll off the tongue the same way.
It’s a shame she didn’t get to heaven after all.
I think she could have taught God a thing or two.
Sarah Arnett is a junior creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy. She is from Castle Rock, Colorado. She is the winner of Albion College’s Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest, and her work has been featured in the Albion Review and the Red Wheelbarrow. After high school, she hopes to major in neurolinguistics while continuing to write in her free time.