I was raised in wooden pews, the voices of white men
raining down from pulpits, planting poison seeds.
my own voice too deep
feet dangling above the crimson carpet.
On Sundays we gathered dusty bibles
put on dresses that were never meant to be worn
with a strut like mine, and
long legs that refused to cross.
I walked the straight and narrow, gay and damned
until it choked me.
Bible belt fashioned into a centuries old noose,
their own golden rule long forgotten.
And in this wilderness where I came to hide
I found instead her healing hands, and beautiful,
rebellious knees that too refused to bow
to sow more shame.
Here in the place they warned would lead to death
there is no fear and trembling,
instead she lies with me, naked and unashamed
my salvation in the woods.
By Sarah Vance
Sarah Vance is a striving poet from East Tennessee who spends their days teaching justice and diverse literature to high schoolers and her evenings loving her wife and kids. They are a justice seeker, word crafter, coffee drinker, and mountain hiker. While Sarah dreams of west coast towns, with ocean breezes, they are southern and believe there is merit in staying and sharing these words.