This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from God Themselves by Jae Nichelle, released by Simon & Schuster in 2023.
Black Girl Catholic
I like dipping my hands in the metal bowls of water & making everything I touch holy. Holy forehead, holy chest, holy lips. I am too old to sleep through sermon, too young to listen. Holy pew. Holy basket for offering. My grandmother passes soft mints to busy our mouths. Not busy enough. Holy sweet. She doesn’t listen to me, but she will to the man commanding standkneel. We accept his crunchy bread. Holy body. We eat God. We eat, yet I hunger for softer things. My auntie won’t let me see the Bible on her phone. She knows I play games instead. I dip my hand again as we leave. Holy me. Flick some on my brother. Holy us.
Jae Nichelle is the author of the poetry chapbook The Porch (As Sanctuary) from YesYes Books; the inaugural poetry winner of the John Lewis Writing Award from the Georgia Writers Association; and her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2020, The Washington Square Review, The Offing Magazine, Muzzle Magazine, and elsewhere. Her spoken word poems have been featured by Write About Now, Speak Up Poetry Series, and Button Poetry.
Katie Manning is the author of Hereverent (Agape Editions), Tasty Other (winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award), and six chapbook collections, including How to Play (Louisiana Literature Press) and 28,065 Nights (River Glass Books). Her poem “What to Expect” was featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast, and her poems have appeared in HAD, Poet Lore, SWWIM, Stirring, Thimble, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Katie is the founder and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University.
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