first, avocado toast, as frank o’hara
so wisely decreed.
then, put your head beneath
the unblessed water,
& yes, the water is
almost as unclean as you are
& no, it’s not your only baptism,
nor is it your fault.
dress yourself as an apology
but you are not apologizing.
bring along your diaries
& show the father the lengths to which
you’d have gone
to ensure that burning was
not your future: tell him you’d have slaughtered every
beast, swum through sand for forty nights,
forgotten to eat for good – whatever it took
to quell the flames. bring your rosaries
& your mother’s & your mother’s mother’s
just in case. choose a pew at the front
to kneel at and wait your turn, shoulders back,
soft gaze, defiant.
enter the box. don’t
tell him how it feels to be touched
on the thigh – like a thousand angels
singing in your stomach. tell him
what you know of desire, how strange
and struggling a thing it is, like a snake
kept in a cracked glass box in the basement
of a house: writhing and unstoppable.
when he says nothing, take out
your dagger. put it not through his chest
but through the rope that binds you.
listen to yourself as you whisper
o, the ferocity of the free.
Anna Nightingale is an editorial assistant at Head of Zeus and a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Her writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Versification, Aurelia Magazine, Brave Voices Magazine, Porridge Magazine and Bindweed Magazine. She lives and writes in south east London. Of ‘how to tell a priest you’re queer’ she says, “this poem is a heavy-hearted reimagining of a scene from The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, in that Boyne’s scene is funny whereas my poem is not.” @annapublishing