Outer Rings

Alec Reitz

If you are sorrowed, you simply aren’t paying close enough mind. These church bells are big as wedding cakes. Big as hollow dreams. Empty doesn’t mean over. It means there’s room for you now. When the bells ring out, you can hear every song that ever hummed you to calm.

Are you grateful yet? Picture this worship. What does it feed? Vibrations. Static clang. Blued together knees. Oh, pray for something too beautiful to name. Let it fill the whole room, then become the room. Then you become the room. Then the room will no longer be what we talk about. Then there will be no need to talk at all. Just the bells. Yes, they ring for funerals. Yes, they ring for all manner of tragedies. We will not always be content but we will always be heard, or at least sounded out. What do you hear now? Are you humming?

What is a church? Hollowed. Full. Hall of cusps. Not all prayers start the same. In fact, most don’t. Is that why you think no one is listening? Silly. Everyone is listening. Even that wall stain. Yes, especially that. It has as much of a right to itself. If you hear humming, don’t try to leave. Listen. We are all calm now.


Alec Reitz earned their BFA from Emerson College and was a Lambda Literary Fellow for Emerging LGBTQ Voices in 2017. They live in Boston, where they spend most of their time investigating bouts of everyday magic and studying Jewish mysticism. Their work can be found in Emerson Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, and The Grief Diaries.

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