I don’t believe in God but I do believe we should

Alanna Schwartz

“I don’t believe in God but I do believe we should” is the Third Place Winner of Room’s 2023 Poetry Contest, as judged by John Elizabeth Stintzi. You can find the full list of winners, and what John had to say about each winning piece, here.

I don’t believe in God but I do believe we should

I don’t believe in God but I do believe we should
So my friends make me promise that I won’t try to baptize them in the lake
on the weekend meant for beer pong and chugging down the moments we have
before someone sounds the death knell of our twenties with a sonogram in the group chat.

For now, we are boyish and our skin is just beginning to crease,
so I am ordained by marijuana cigarettes and the very sight of you all.
Let me baptize you in the name of your inner child–
in the name of tinned fish and top surgery and the moment yesterday when we all swam out into the
middle of the lake in the rain.
Of course I wished for our bathing suits to dissolve–
but I also wished that for our skin
and our bodies.
The way I tell Jordan that I wish we could be like raindrops, slipping together
into a fat and heavy blob on the car window.
For the first time in years I want to pray for my friends,
To lay my hand on the muscle that connects Scott’s laugh to his shoulders,
To feel the colour of Danae’s hair.
Rumi is right that we’re swimming in God,
I’m telling you we’re the fish.

Alanna Schwartz (she/her) is a performance writer and poet as well as a fierce advocate for housing and harm-reduction, having spent the last four years working with people experiencing homelessness and childhood sexual exploitation in her hometown of Calgary in Treaty 7 territory. Most recently, she has written for the internationally acclaimed webseries Abracadavers. She is currently an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph and lives in the Willow River Watershed.


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