By Taylor Byas
“The Blood Still Works” stampedes through the nave
and once the organ player’s shoulders seize
with song, the spirit hits the pews in waves.
I catch the loosening necks, the mouths’ new ease
as the congregants begin to speak in tongues;
I move my lips, pretend to be saved, and next
to me, my grandma convulses—the drums
of the band a puppet master, a hex—
while ushers in white surround her, lock hands
to keep us in. The preacher’s sermon builds
to a screech, his sinners flitter fans
like mosquito wings, and with his eyes he guilts
me into clasping hands: I repent for things
I’ve yet to do. They jerk to tambourines.
Taylor Byas is a 23-year-old Chicago native. She’s spent her last six years in Birmingham, Alabama, where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she has begun the Ph.D program in creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. Her work appears or is forthcoming in the journal Sanctuary and High Shelf Press.