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Hell is a White Room With No Windows

when I was twelve I was told that not going

to church every Sunday was a mortal sin

what my grandmother didn’t know (or perhaps did)

was when she told me this, she

in essence, told her own granddaughter - the second

daughter of her first-born, that she would essentially

burn in Hell for not attending church

but I went to Catholic school for eleven years,

I was an altar server for two, I was a Christian

before I could utter a word

and so I started to think rather than pray

for years I lingered on my invented mantra of

God hates me, God hates me

until I realized, until I asked myself

why do I need the approval of (your) God I am not even sure I believe in?

I’m unsure when I started to think like

an agnostic, or a humanist, or an atheist (at times)

but I remember asking myself

if God has a plan for everything, why do

we pray to change (his) course?

a God (in the sky?) so beyond our comprehension

that religion – nonsecular and sluggish, is irrelevant,


yet I do believe in the infinity of the human soul

I have felt my sister’s since her parting

and I see her in dreams, in butterflies, in light

in arcane humanity is where I see God

in art, through the lens of a ballpoint pen,

in the will to live despite depression, anxiety

saying no, saying no, screaming no

and Hell? Hell is a white room with no windows

a windowless room save for a rectangle of light

high enough for me to claw my way to the top, on the walls

high enough for me to carve with my bare nails “Jesus is not my savior”

Hell is an overnight stay in a sterile hovel where

the 86 year-old woman next to you is vomiting

where the mixed company includes a man brandishing

an invisible knife, and another man begging for release

and the Devil? the Devil are those who send you there

with the promise of life, a cure for fear

so after that lively experience, I began to study, began to question

an array of philosophies you wouldn’t dare find within a Catholic school

library – words that justified, words that embodied

my hunger, my thirst for a truth of my own

yes, I do believe in a God, just not the way you do

God appears to me in the form of a 4am fever dream urging me to write

and write, and write again

God appears to me as an envisage of hope - blood like battery fluid,

teeth like intention, skin like survival

I confess that whenever someone thanks Jesus

for the smallest thing, I smuggle a distant

subtle eye roll

but that is none of my concern

for at last I found my religion

at last, my religion is curiosity

About the author: Arielle Tipa is a writer and editor based in New York who has appeared in FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, thread, Alien Mouth, and Mirror Dance, among others.


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