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“and Pastor speaks with God, while I/repent my youth that/like the flower which fades/has been my secret, golden calf.”

In the mouth of a hollar

at the end of a gravel driveway, 

a single-wide trailer lies like a pine box 

with husband and wife (bags beneath eyes,

lines drawn in skin) allowing Pastor and me 

to stand at the threshold of the room where

the old, dusty mother, 


sleeps beneath bedsheets.

Dead—she looks dead to me

because she breathes shallow, 

hopeless breaths. 

“May we pray with you?” Pastor asks the couple,

who nod, then bow their heads 

and hold each other’s hands. 


I slip into the kitchen, 

within earshot of the gray-heads gathered,

and Pastor speaks with God, while I 

repent my youth that 

like the flower which fades 

has been my secret, golden calf.


Mark Botts lives with his wife Rebecca and their three children in West Virginia. He is a visiting instructor of English with Bluefield State University. He also serves as a Bible teacher for his church and as a strength and conditioning coach for a Christian school. He writes essays, poems, stage plays, and screenplays. His screenplay The Women Will Be Here Soon is in pre-production for a shoot in the fall of 2023. 

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