**On a mobile device, this poem is best viewed using landscape orientation.
As a child raised right on the buckle of the bible belt, each June I could be found buried in the
basement of a church singing Jesus loves me, and stringing salvation bracelets.
One strand of leather, 6 tiny, shiny beads, and a room full of small children being casually
introduced to the depravity of man and the threat of eternal damnation in a lake of fire.
Fear being firmly planted in our hearts, our task to take and wear our bracelets, and strike the
same shame and fear in the hearts of our friends. Each bead a weapon to wield in our struggle
A blue bead for baptism, a dip taken in the brown waters of the Tennessee river, me a
six-year-old child “buried with him into death” before ever having lived.
A black bead to show the sin we carry that separates us from God. Black – like the sky that July
night my lips first touched hers.
A green bead to represent the growth of your faith, not the growth of your mind, never the asking
of questions. Green – like the back of my mom’s shirt as she walked away after I told her I loved
A red bead for the blood of Jesus spilled for sinners, so long as they are not gay. Red – like the
blood dripping from my knuckles that New Year’s night I told him I was leaving.
A yellow bead to represent the golden streets of heaven, greed being eternal. Yellow – like the
leaves covering the ground the night I whispered, “Will you be my wife?”
A white bead for purity, pastors being obsessed with who’s in their congregants beds. White –
like her dress on the day we shed our shame and shared our vows beside that mountain stream.
Sarah Vance is a trans/non-binary poet who spends their days working from home with a 175 pound Great Dane puppy named Arlo and their evenings loving their wife and kids. They are a justice seeker, word crafter, coffee drinker, and mountain hiker. While Sarah dreams of west coast towns, with ocean breezes, they are Southern and believe there is merit in staying and sharing these words.