Caitlin Gildrien

O congregation of sensible shoes.
O buttoned plaid shirts, men in neat beards,
O matriarchs with your practical Judy Dench hair,
O, church parking lot of Prius and Volt. We

are trying. We hung Black Lives Matter
over the door, and that’s not nothing.
Nobody is saying it’s nothing. What
they’re saying is “Keep going”

Or maybe, “What next?”
If we call it Social Justice,
what next? If
we call it Radical Love.

If we call it Anti-Racism.
If we call it Covenant.
If we can say that whatever
we’ve done so far, it may not

be nothing, but it is also
not enough.

Myself, I would not know how
to go to an AME church.
I would not know where to sit
or what to wear or how to sing.

I’m sure I would be welcome, but
I am not sure that I would make it
so far as to find out. And you?
O congregation who actually sings

Kum-ba-yah. Whatever you call light,
we must shine it. Whatever you call faith,
tell it to get ready, and get ready
to lean into it. Lean forward

into the fear, the unease:
Your growing edge.
And ye shall know the fruit
is ripe when the thorns

prick your tender skin. And
it’s okay to hate it
when it makes you bleed, o friends,
o sweet earnest friends. But let us hate it

together, and let us keep going.
Let us keep going.