BY STEPHANIE CHANG
“The dearth of information on faith-based camps led to [our] interest in exploring outcomes and impacts of the camp experience on youth who attend these religiously-affiliated camps…”
— Jacob Sorenson, Journal of Youth Development
On the singing grounds, I press light onto the blade
of a guillotine and calcify prayer in the preacher’s belly.
The earth is so pale when we leave. A girl: her hands
sacred, butchering a stolen mango from the breakfast table;
Eyelashes snagged on the water’s edge. Trademark
of our ancestors, she says, you know how they like it.
The way she forges dirt around angles of a moving mouth.
I circle the lake as vulture, limn the island into loneliness.
Soundless as sky drapes gasoline over the horizon, choking out
a crooked existence. I language her spine against scaffolding,
silk on our cheeks as she scrapes blessing off my tongue
and that night I dreamt of God: I imagined the pastor
on his knees and a thousand sun-stained bodies.
Smoke rose from the half-opened trees like a shutter.
An angel in a kayak. A man glares across a bullet-rained beach,
Ecclesiastes spilling from inside his throat. Heaven ready
to swallow everything behind the wired fence. And God:
His body wading in the river reeds, grip around white antlers
and a voice: all the wrong chords for a hymn. And God knows
where the flowers always fall. God eats my false testimony and knives
close our thighs. No apology. Nothing he could possibly do.