All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You

Emilia Phillips

                   St. Pete’s

In chapel I castled in air a flood

from rain that forked on the windows

silver and sheeted in gusts

to mirrors flashing moments,

and although the school was

citadeled on a hill, I imagined the halls

as canals I paddled with canoes carved

from pews — my oars

the crucifix and torch, my life

vest fashioned from the Common

Prayers. I camped in

the rafters and made hand-sized fires

of palms ignited by match and oil. At night I

would drink myself to my first

drunk on communion

red and spread Peter

Pan on the wafers. My daydream then

was not of love, though the stairs

became a waterfall, the computer monitors —

conchs on the lakebed, silent,

their green hypnotic

now dark. The organ pipes were dead

coral that burbled when I dove

from the nave to plunge

its keys.

I once said that prayer was the first form

of love

poem I knew, but before prayer there was

absence. I drowned the other

sticky children

pewed alphabetically

on either side of me

in absence — their bodies not

floating facedown, unrescued by their parents,

or the Coast

Guard. They were simply

gone with the flash flood

like the masses in Noah’s time that we never heard

knocking against the hull

or discovered in trees

bloated and winking, petal eyed

like Benny Goodman.

Noah didn’t survive

long after the ark. The water,

we know now, was

poisoned by us.

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