anoushka kumar"FAITH, OR MY CONSTANT LACK OF IT"

Some seven a.m. bus ride leaves you disembodied. A little shard of
babyhood leaks out through a towelled-seat, when best friend
says atheism, she trips over a stop sign / leaves things behind; doe-
eyelids and a noose around stucco + a hunter's lattice.
A summer stillness shatters. A deer steps into a water hole.

You like the way she whirls infinity into incense sticks &
when it is time to pray, this fury's haze will be worse than
a continent's travesty. Because it will dance and tantalise

and elude like Notre Dame's spires where a townhall's
cerecloth lies embossed in jasmine. Here lies a beating heart,
steady and full of life & love yet it holds blood close a
cyclist's pump at a sorrow's gas-station: pay to enter. Child,

your hands are blest now; they reek of sandalwood, petite
squares and petite shoulders steeped in butter,
clarified into a seraphim's glassy eyelids. Say we
are copper on copper on glassy pupils, infants
fed on jute mats and bamboo-carved from demure
crevices. In church, we step over a patriot's

grave and skip-a-step into a lisping choirboy's
tear-stained robes: he gives us a hand. To the
altar now, waxy heathens & a peony's train.
Strength and heavenly grace, in a forefather's
stained glass window we see cherubs dangling
from silver-leaf chandeliers and grief in a mother-
of-pearl's pew confessions. My mother speaks

a different religion: of the orient; where a young
monk spins prayer wheels and makes a home from
heather and cracks an eggshell against futile wars.
I wring my hands on a moss-holed tombstone
and spread gardenias around a priest's throng.
Wishing for clear blasphemy, a sliver of devotion.

Anoushka Kumar (she/her) is a writer and student from India whose work is either forthcoming or published in the Heritage Review, the Qualia Review, and The Young Writers' Initiative literary journal. She also edits for Cathartic Lit, Gossamer Lit, and the Interstellar Review. When not writing, she can be found listening to Phoebe Bridgers, crying over poetry, and debating the queerness of complex female characters.