First, the sound of bodies folding into pews.
Then, for a moment, silence.

At the hour, the bells of St. David’s don’t ring.
Darkness presses into every corner of the sanctuary.
Loud. Present.

What a strange phenomenon—to have eyes and open them
and know that you are seeing but to only see black.

What a strange phenomenon—to listen to music and hear black and white.
What would it be like to use music as kindling, I think then, notes of milk and honey going up in flame, lighting up the stained glass windows that have long since dissolved against the sapphire sky.

Instead, I sit and listen in total darkness—no arson, no burning honey—tearing at my fingernails until the skin there is bloodied and raw. Until the music fades away and the congregation is no longer a congregation but one person, bleeding. And then, for a moment, silence.

I coil the silence around my body and let it constrict.

About the Author

Nooshin Ghanbari is a senior English and Plan II Honors major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2017 Regents’ Outstanding Student Award in Arts and Humanities for excellence in poetry. When she isn’t writing angsty poems, Nooshin can be found singing her heart out in countless choirs on- and off-campus and camping out at the many great coffee shops that Austin has to offer. Her work has previously been published in print and online in the United States, England, and Wales.