“sanctuary of my childhood church” by Cortney Collins


a red velvet curtain hangs
in front of the chancel,
girded by a pale cross.

dad tells me this is
where the Ark of the Covenant

i imagine the bow
of a great vessel
behind this crimson threshold,
ready to be freed,
to slice that veil in half
and topple the white cross,
the way a cargo ship
cuts a delta
through floating ice
in Nordic waters.

i see that ship charge
out into the pews,
pushing aside bibles &
offering plates &
as it careens
toward the stained glass
window of Jesus
with a banner that says
suffer the little children
and shatters it into
a million fragments
of colored light.

all that’s left are
bits of flame and
shards of glass
as we watch the stern
of the ship
sail out of the church and
off into the Sandhills.

stupefied churchgoers
let hymnals drop
from their limp hands,
perplexity on their faces
as their children chase
the maiden voyager
out onto the plains,
satin ribbons on Easter dresses
trailing in the Nebraska wind
like telltales on a mainsail.


Cortney Collins’ poetry has been published by South Broadway Ghost Society, 24hr Neon Mag, Amethyst Review, Devil’s Party Press, and others. She enjoys co-facilitating weekly poetry workshops for women in the corrections system in conjunction with SpeakOut! at Colorado State University. Cortney lives on the Eastern Plains of Colorado with her feline companion, Pablo. 

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