Tiffany Santos

Annual Ritual

I am aware of each hair
on my bushy, unshaven legs
sticking out from underneath the dress
I only wear when attending my mother's church.

I still remember all the special words
but they don't mean anything anymore.
No. They mean
a rising heat in my face & an urge

to tell everyone in the room:
I like to fuck women / have four tattoos / a nose ring
hold political opinions / a bachelor's degree
think their god is a lie.

But I sit quietly, heat rising
off the tops of my ears,
sing the hymns.
Once a year, the fallen daughter returns

to the flock, a naked wolf
who fidgets in her seat,
claws at the door, head up,
eyes open during the prayer.

A Western Maryland native, Tiffany Santos is an avid poet, writer, cinephile, new media publicist, event planner, producer, and educator. She has taught various types of writing classes for summer programs, colleges, writers’ retreats, and community schools. She is the co-founder and editor at Black Hat/ Black Tree Press, which features a local reading series. She graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in gender studies with a minor in Asian studies and has completed some graduate-level work in poetry from Carlow University's low-residency program. Her poetry, essays, and short stories have been published in several literary journals including Backbone Mountain Review, Voices from the Attic, Lavender Review, Wicked Banshee Press, and Dionne's Story: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose for the Awareness of Relationship Violence. She currently works as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Allegany Arts Council.