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Atheist carolers walked into the basement of a church

Fri Jan 15th, 2016

Michaela Coplen

where they were basically giving away food for free.

Of course that’s why we went there—each of us empty-bellied

and wanting warmth, the blood rising to blush

on our wind-chapped cheeks. The butternut squash soup

was gone by then, but the chili pot seemed bottomless

and we sheepishly kept coming back for more.

The bent-backed woman just smiled and stirred and poured,

and there we were again, too hungry to be afraid. We sat 

in the corner together, laughing at a sign on the bulletin board.

A bad joke: it said that the first of April is “Atheist Christmas”

because only “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Full fools, we left, buzzing back and forth about our eventual

damnation. I think that’s the happiest we’d been in a while.

We waved as we went on our way. The bent-backed woman smiled.


Michaela Coplen is a sophomore at Vassar.  Her poetry has won her recognition as a National Student Poet by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.