LXXX | Sermon

The sun hasn’t even set
when I deposit Rowan

at the doorstep
of her nameless chicken rice shop.

‘Thank you,’ she whispers

as if she doesn’t want
the empty street to know

we’re dating.

The tips of her ears
are red

so I know
she means it.

‘It feels like it you were bored,
‘but you put up with it
‘because I was so excited.’

You were excited? I couldn’t tell.

I brush hair from her face
and hook a stray strand
behind her ear.

Her eyes were shining all day.

‘I learnt cool things today.’

Screw flattery.
I’ll be honest about this.

‘It doesn’t start with that
‘but usually every date

‘ends with sex.’

She takes my hand.
It’s soft.

‘My world was so small before.’

She tilts her head.

‘You’re honest today,’
she comments.

I laugh
and lean in close.

‘I want to kiss you, Rowan.’

I hear her heartbeat.

‘Me too,’ she says.

And I find myself

at my reflection in dark frosted glass.




Her whole family
is waiting at the bus stop

when I alight.

‘Sorry for being late,’ I say
without actually feeling sorry.

I’m nervous

about going to church

so I wanted to have
less time
to think about it.

The last church I went to
gave me a bad impression
of churches in general.

Rowan’s father

when he asks me how I am

and Aspen excitedly explains
the context of today’s sermon.

Something chim
like spiritual maturity.

Her church on a Sunday
isn’t what I envisioned.

The building
is the same one

as the day of the picnic

but there are
more people here

than people queuing up for iPhones.
Like, five times more.

I’ve never queued up
for an iPhone.

It’s 9am
in the morning!

The church I visited before
was nothing like this.

Does it just look different
because I’m
in Rowan’s world now?

A voice calls my name

even though
I don’t know
anyone here.

Adam squeezes through the crowd,
familiar faces in tow.

Rowan’s friends
whose names I didn’t bother to remember.

I really thought
I’d never come back here again.

They repeat their names for me.


I ask them why their names
all end with h.

They tell me
I pointed this out

last time already.

Awkward laugh time…

We sing songs.

(Fine, everyone sings and I listen.)

A chill goes down my spine
but I tell myself
it’s the effect of the music.

I’m sandwiched between
Aspen and Elijah

so it’s hard to see Rowan’s face.

But from the


of the faces

I can see,

it’s not hard to guess.

When we sit down,
Elijah tells me
I’m looking in the wrong place.

Aren’t we supposed to watch the preacher on stage?


He points at the glass walls
that surround the sanctuary.

A chill

goes down

my spine

and then

surrounding the building

for miles and miles,

stands legions of

weird like the winged donkey and my chameleon cat.

There’s so many of them,

some humanoid,
some holding weapons
          like DOTA 2 characters,

the ground around them

like the golden streets of the golden city.
like the ground is made of the sun.

My jaw drops.

‘That’s creepy,’ I tell Elijah.

He grins.

‘I know right.
‘It’s awesome.

‘When I see this army every Sunday,
‘I get enough HP for the next week.’

The pastor
is introducing the holy communion

but I can’t stop
looking at the queer army
gathered outside.

‘Who are they?’ I ask

and know the answer immediately

because I see Mr. Ahmad
standing beside a bear with horns.

Elijah answers

‘It’s the Spirit
‘and the armies of God.’




I don’t remember much

about the sermon

but the image of the supernatural army
is burned into my mind.

I can’t stop thinking about it

even after
I’ve said goodbye

to the h musketeers,
then Rowan and family,

and now sit
staring into space
on a wobbly bus

en route home.


I get off

in a daze

and see a familiar face,

with yellow contacts,
iconic cigarette

and a pissed look.




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