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God in Gobstoppers -- poetry by Madeline Rosales

I stood on the sidewalk on a summer afternoon, peeling

cuticles from my finger and brushing my sore wrists against

the sweat racing itself down my forehead. I waited for your

Honda to honk from behind my back, and I began to fear wheels.

You hollered from the open window. I came. I felt a stinging sensation

inside of my mouth from the A.C. you refused to lower, so our lungs were

filled with ice. I almost choked. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the

mirror, because your friends say my nose is yours, and I can’t wait to change

it. You had spoiled gobstoppers in the cupholder. I thought that if I bit

down once on any one of them, I will never chew again. I’d never talk again.

I turned my gaze to the wet-inked grocery receipts, fuzzy dice, and stray

quarters. I met the gaze of homeless man when we were stopped at a light,

so you floored the gas. I saw him weep gobstoppers. You dialed to the gospel

radio, and it’s I love Jesus, Jesus Saves in heavy jazz. I thought to myself,

Jesus is a righteous gobstopper. You sang along, the steering wheel was your

piano. I feared you. I watched two women walk their dogs beside the wired

fence, and cradle their palms like pink-skinned babies. Your voice went silent

as we passed the cemetery, because the song cut off. You said, I’m telling you,

it’s the work of the devil again. You never liked the cemetery. You had nothing

to worry about, we realized, because the music eventually crawled back.

I began to think there were white maggots at my neck. I began to think that

I’m gobstopper bruised, flatlining on your upholstery. I was sick with

disbelief. I thought of you pushing my stroller, pushing my swing into whiskers

of cloud, and I thought of the stale taste of a pacifier. I wondered then

if you’d still love me if you knew I was gay, or if you’d melt me like

a gobstopper in the microwave. I wondered if you knew that I never will find

God, like the woman on the radio. I never will. I felt the spit drain from

my throat. You couldn’t hear me. You tapped your toes, dizzy with Jesus

as my teeth rot and my jaw breaks down.


Madeline Rosales has recently won a Gold Key for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and has forthcoming publications of poetry and prose with the Academy of the Heart and Mind, @eecstatic, and The Odyssey Youth Magazine. She works as a Senior Editor for Polyphony Lit, and as the Chief Editor for her school's literary magazine, the Cardinal Chronicle.

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