At the age of seven, I believed God to listen, my hands a corded phone transfiguring prayers to voicemails. One night I fell asleep without ending the call with the sign of the cross. During my eight hours of silence, wars were created & people begged for help, but God couldn’t be found because He was bent over an answering machine, listening to me breathe. At Sunday school, Sister Mary reminds me selfish & Sonya both begin with “s.” The hospital stacks voicemails on my phone like I, too, am god. Stephanie, a nurse, Nick, a PA, then the doctor himself reaches out—the holy trinity of you have to translate to your father that we found a tumor. He’s refusing to stay overnight & says he doesn’t understand. Call us back. A boy I like teaches me to play the drums, his hands warm on mine when he tells me it’ll be okay. My bare foot keeps time hitting the bass —it does not sound benign. Our drumsticks drown with uneven beats that make him smile as the rest of the world floods. He hums a beat—bum bum bum pa bum bum bum pa bum bum bum pa —as we strike each communioned face for the distraction of rhythm. Listen— bum bum bum pa bum bum bum pa bum bum bum pa—my phone rattles a heartbeat across the room. Try it again.
Sonya Lara received her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MFA in Poetry from Virginia Tech. Currently, she is the Poetry Editor for Minerva Rising. She was accepted for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, the Hambidge Creative Residency Program, and the Peter Bullough Foundation Residency and was shortlisted for the Eavan Boland Emerging Poet Award and runner-up in Shenandoah’s Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Lit, Shenandoah, Ninth Letter, AGNI, the Los Angeles Review, the Acentos Review, and elsewhere.