Believe in Me
When Miss Hooker walks from our portable
building where we have Sunday School class to
her little car in the church parking lot,
I watch her from under the apple tree
where I meet my dog when we're finished up
with God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost
for the day. Of course, They should be in my
heart and even in my thoughts for the rest of
the day, and the other six, too, while we're
about it, but sometimes I forget. I
wonder if she does, too, and what her life's
like the rest of the week. All I know is
that I'm in love with her but she's pushing
30, I'd guess, and I'm just ten years old,
and it's hopeless--she'll never fall in love
with me, and we'll never get married, and
there's no way that I can compete with God
for all her charms. And maybe she's dating
some other guy, I mean a full-grown man.
I hope not. I take that back--that's selfish
of me and selfishness is a sin and
if I'm a sinner I won't stand a chance
with her unless she forgives me like God
does. I hope He does. He said that He would,
or Jesus did, and He's the Son of God
and maybe even God Himself--I'm not
sure. Maybe I was sick that Sunday. It's
all complicated but that's religion
for you--God never makes it too easy
or maybe it's people who spoil it all.
My dog wants to go home--I walk to church
--but I'm waiting for Miss Hooker to stop
looking at herself in the rearview mirror at
her makeup. We're Episcopalians so
makeup isn't a sin, except on men,
and maybe not even then. Who knows? She's
mighty fetching to be so old and
the kind of gal who will be beautiful
even when she's as old as my mother
and even my grandmother, who's dead, and
so is the other one, the one no one
likes. Father's mother. At least he liked her
--that ought to count for something. She's starting
her engine, Miss Hooker is, and backing
out. I always wave but she never sees
me. Now she's driving out the entrance. Good
-bye, I whisper. See you next week, Darling.
I turn around and my dog's halfway up
the hill. I follow. I feel like Moses.
Maybe when I come down the hill again
I'll have white hair and carry two headstones
the way he does in the movie, and say
O Israel, you have sinned a great sin,
but Mother says that you catch more flies with
honey than with vinegar. I don't know.
When I got home last Sunday, Mother asked
What did you learn from Miss Hooker today?
I just stared at her until she asked, Well?
Nothing, I said, when I snapped out of it.
And that's why I keep going back for more.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Danse Macabre, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).
Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.