Church Bells

Matthew Bettencourt

we glowed sallow in

shatter-flicker fluorescent light, shine like

glass in those dim worm tunnels,

sweat-sticky skin in windowless corner rooms, the flood 

waits for the door to shut before He walks the linoleum mile 

back to his office nailed to the wall but we know 

His ear slips between the cracks in our faith



Jane Brooks, Witch, was hung in 1658 because

she gave a boy an apple, touched his Right Side,

and lifted him over a garden wall.

Jane Brooks, Witch, is dead, but when we sneak

into the courtyard, red brick climbing to heaven on 

four sides,

i wonder if she isn’t strong enough to scale even those, if

she promised the boy Power when all he knew was 

marble every thursday, lungs full of the sickly-sweet smoke

prayers rising

and He floated on His own


i swallow a queen bee before i approach the altar and tell myself next week

will be different

i pull my collar higher to cover the 

thorns, apple-red bites growing out of my neck

The Priest cries power into gold filigree and performs a miracle

the bell rings to tell us something has happened here


I crack a bead of amber under my palm and breathe through gritted teeth

the shards stick in My hand, pass beneath the skin, and melt onto bone

I slice my thumb on bloodstone and it tells me a tornado is coming

this, I imagine, is what an apple tastes like when it’s presented but not offered

over the walls, wind begins to whirl. a bell chimes

I wait

Matthew Bettencourt is a student, studying Creative Writing at Madison and working as a Fiction Editor at The Madison Review.