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Jul 2014
We were told we were born sick
Though we never felt ill
We met in Sunday school
And over the coughs of other children
That hacked out either verses or mucus
It was never clear which
I asked you for a paint brush
And you stepped over the damp tissues
Thrown defeated on the ground
Like offerings at a precession
And you’d painted next to me.

We were told we’d always be sick
But we never looked ill
When I accidently bumped your elbow reaching for
More paper
Our blushing cheeks the color of alter wine
Bore healthy smiles and warm glows
And after countless more Sundays
When the men in funny neck ties
Came around to give us crackers
In the shapes of pills we couldn’t swallow
We decided to hide them in the sleeves of our robes
And we watched as all the other children
Grew sicker while we grew stronger
Even though they drank blood
And we’d sneak off to drink wine.

We became the heretics of hallelujahs
AWOL archangels
And we were never bed ridden from illness
In fact we yearned for the outside
Disregarding the warnings of germs
That ran rampant there
Figuring that was why they made the
Church’s steeple look like a needle
We wanted freedom nonetheless.

They told us that we would catch the flu
By holding hands
And when we were caught contaminated
They told us to wash our bodies off in the water
And you looked at me and I looked at you
And we agreed that we should-
But not this water, not here
So we grabbed hands again
And you with your free left and I with my free right
Pushed through the double doors
And as the light poured in the chapel
It scorched the priests but for us it baptized us whole
And now we tell ourselves swimming in the sea
That became our holy healing water
We’d only ever be as sick as others let us be.
Work in progress.
Hayley Neininger
Written by
Hayley Neininger
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