THE CHARISMATIC CHURCH ASKS ME HOW I HAVE SINNED
by Janelle Tan
i shouldn’t be here. the ocean is on fire.
i step over another subway platform puddle.
a week ago all these tunnels drowned in rain,
and today new york is full of wide, gaping prayer--
my face’s dishonest ache
looking at the woman i once loved.
a hurricane in louisiana and an earthquake
in haiti and texas was freezing
and tennessee is flooding and california
is burning, and i am running
past all the people displaced,
trying to make my train.
i’m still a shedding
branch of longing,
i have asked serendipity
for so much –
the pink-haired woman
across the subway car with the snake
tattoo, the bottle blonde
at the gay bar that’s just the name
of the closest subway station
rearranged, for the friend of a friend
with the same taste in fiction
and risograph prints.
at broadway junction, the evangelicals cry
from the end of the escalators, he has come
to save us. you can be saved –
let me fail myself. let me call
love an unanswered prayer. let me be
the very tip of the knife
that touches grace.
Janelle Tan was born in Singapore. Her poems appear in Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, Split Lip, Muzzle, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.