quintessential hard heart

by Tiffany Thio
my mom built her life on a 45º angle. 
she says god promised to save lives like hers from
the tumble of gravity and my brother says, y’know, after 
2000 years of silence maybe his priorities have changed. 
i wake cold under an open window and wonder if god 
will ever hear me. after 19 years my tongue 
can dance the language of prayer as well as any; 
i still stand in rivers waiting for a reply. once
we drove the van way up
to where the santiam quieted to a whisper 
between the trees. my avalanche of water
backed by concrete and metal, so demure
i swallowed the stars and tromped out to
wake god from playing dead. better people than
me have tried and none have screamed so damn loud
but the wall kept rising and the stones i threw fell
to the riverbed and there was nothing left to do but go home