12 Steps to the Basement

by Sarah Stockton


Kneeling or standing, bowing or scraping,

dipping bread and sipping wine,

I don’t remember how to pass the peace

or which line for communion is meant for me—

should I just cross my arms over my sinful chest?

It’s complicated so until they figure it out,

I think I’ll wait downstairs.


Here in this shadow congregation

we skip the priests and forgo the wine.

This is the only creed I’m willing to

say I believe: all church

basement rooms smell of stale

graham crackers, sadness and glue, and

all Sunday school chairs will be stacked like

discarded sins when the day is through.

SARAH STOCKTON, MA, is a spiritual director, writer, and poet. She’s the author of A Pen and a Path: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (Morehouse Publishing) and Restless in Christ: Becoming a Spiritual Director (Crossroad Publishing). Her poems have appeared in Earth’s Daughters, Crab Creek Review, and Haunted Waters Press.  Sarah taught at the University of San Francisco for several years, raised two children, and has recently moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she is working on her first poetry chapbook. See more at: sarahstockton.com

Photo: “Floating” by Kelly Picune

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