By Ryan Laffin
The teal carpet always prickled,
so out of place in a church. My chubby arms
remembered that burlap sting
from when I crawled under the pews
and met strangers, shocked to see me.
That was a different time,
when the pews were refuge.
I was Daniel crawling through the lion’s den,
David hiding from Saul, and someday
Too old to take shelter, instead forced
to face the faces that expected more.
Then I was a boy with a bent back,
trying to sit up straight on the hard wood
that had been my shield.
Burgundy Bibles, spaced two to a row.
Pages so thin they couldn’t turn without tearing.
Paper so thin, my skin shone pink through the verses.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I want to hide
under the pews. Here I am, twenty years taller,
still unsure why I can’t fit.