Our mothers spoke of apocalypses

by Whitney Rio-Ross


What the world is coming to, they mourned
between headshakes. Their voices echoed the falling
towers, their hush built on talk radio and abridged Bible
verses we memorized weekly to recite at soccer practice.

There they passed visions of the end times around their circled
camping chairs, like flasks they couldn’t drink, only preach against:
It could happen any minute. God would play Santa, slide clouds
or flames down our chimneys, whichever we’d earned.

Everything was gravity, all prayer a battle
against the demons, worship a war cry. We played
for the Christian league in hopes of bringing in
the kingdom on second-hand cleats.

After games, we dug dirty nails into bruised
oranges, split with the devout vengeance
we absorbed. As we partook, we talked earrings
and boys, hoping to drown out the choir behind us.

When I bit into each cocoon, I waited for the rupture, unsewn
form, unleashed flood that stained all our hands. We licked
what we could from our fingers and wiped the remains
on the blades of God’s green earth.




Whitney Rio-Ross graduated from Yale Divinity School in 2015. Her writing has appeared in Rock & Sling, The Cresset, Gravel, The Windhover, and elsewhere. She teaches English as an adjunct at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her husband Joshua, another YDS alum.