I am a childless mother who teaches teenage boys tenderness. I lose them in malls and to life sentences. I shop online for a skeleton key. I repeat their names until I find one that will unlatch my fear. We play out stale loops with concrete checkers. the games always end with a draw until I meet Judah. He is hungry for the moon and ultraviolet hues. We look past the expanding chicken wire. We clasp the air between our fingerpads as we cradle nuance, reimagine utopia and recycle burnt narratives. He says this place is a perfect purgatory. That we are smashed between His gates and the fallen angel’s reluctant home. I say we are orphaned as we speak silently with god. He lives in rivers lined with sempervirens. We find presence shaped like flexed feet. Headstands tethered to the purpose of our expiration. Judah tells me to write down his name. I fold it like origami and stitch it in my collar next to our familiar and distant kin.
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Josephine Raye Kelly (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist and writer who feels most at home in redwood forests. Occupying vast and eclectic identities, their most recent project includes serving as an editor and community organizer with Ouch!, a queer art collective based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their work has been published in various online and print magazines, including The Spotlong Review, Bi Women Quarterly, and beestung. Connect with them on the gram: @jrk.dreamscape