We speak with different tongues and yours is slick;
the words unfurl too smoothly, drip to the floor
like suffocated flies caught in the thick

of honey. My tongue doesn't let words pour
out like that: they struggle in the web
of lies I weave. Grieving, I thirst for more

than what you give. At night in our cold bed,
the pulsing of your chest beats like a clock—
I thought I'd be close to you, stroke your head,

but now I find my questing fingers stop
before they find your cheek; I pull away.
I know the reason we lie dull as rocks:

I am a girl who fucks when I should pray.
Each night you kneel beside the bed, exalt
some God for saving you; I twist and sway

against another man. It is your fault:
you offered me no warmth to make me stay.
The only thing your lust for prayer has taught

me is a stranger's skin; I'm not afraid
you'll find me out. I act like I can't feel
your eyes search me, continue my charade.

I know instead of lying, I should kneel
altar-side, let the cool marble touch
my skin—the faceless robes behind their steel

screens demand confession. It's a crutch,
and I will find the grounds to sin again:
when you are at home you pray too much

and I am left alone—I turn to him.
I cannot lie; I am a girl who fucks
when I should pray—it is an awful sin.

Rachel Bunting, a born and bred South Jersey girl, lives at the edge of the Pine Barrens, but does not believe in the Jersey Devil. Her poetry can be found in Journal of New Jersey Poets, the Edison Literary Review and the Mad Poets Review. Rachel won first prize for poetry at the 2004 Phila Writer's Conference and the 2005 Michael Lanza award from Richard Stockton College.

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