milk is for beginners (hebrews 5:13)


i can feel / his picture-book breath / in my ear like a daydream.

Poetry by Gabrielle Varela


milk is for beginners (hebrews 5:13)

i don’t know much,
being three,

but i know there are grown-up things,
and not so grown-up things,

and at night,
god is an open mouth
in the dark.

there is only the what of him,
not the when
or the how
or the why.

i can feel
his picture-book breath
in my ear like a daydream.

i crook his hands together,
magnets under synthetic fur,
felted puppets bowing
between my fingers.

they are soft with parables,
large with knowledge.

here: the sinner’s prayer
sucked through teeth
like milk on tongue —

we drink together.

morning is a grown-up thing.

light carves carpet,
cutting through socked feet
into my mother’s bedroom.

under julienned ribbons
of blue suburban sky,
i cannot tell
what is real
from what is story.

i can only bring her this folded salvation.
i can only tell everything:
the dinosaurs,
the milk,
these words like fairy tales in my mouth,
this god like a nightmare recurrent.

we unfurl the miracle
of christ reborn in me.

he spills out of my chest,
as a new word,
essential as a lesson
learned twice.

“let’s pray again,
just to be sure,”
my mother says.

watch god recede
like an ending,
watch his angels
draw their ankles away
from the edge of the bed.

watch my mother lift heaven itself
back onto the ordered glass shelves,

a tchotchke in her palm,
out of reach of these small hands.

Gabrielle Varela is a freelance writer and author based in the northernmost reaches of the East Bay, California. While studying English and poetry at Westmont College, her work was accepted for print publication at The Phoenix and later appeared online at Frostwriting. Her first book, a cultural retrospective on the 1992 film, Newsies, is pending publication with Theme Park Press. Find her on Twitter @morethanfairies.