Two Poems

December 22, 2018

Spliced

 

   

On Saturday nights I dream about her,

Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher, how

we're married and in our living room and

watching TV, not that we really are,

after supper, until it's time to go

to bed, which we do, in the bedroom we

share, the bed as well, and the darkness, not

the scary kind of darkness where you die

or at least monsters try to jump you but

the darkness that bears a little light, God's

shadow, maybe. And next morning when I

wake I wake alone, in time for Sunday

School and the chance to see Miss Hooker

until another week. She's got red hair

and green eyes and freckles and I, I don't

—but I can get them if I marry her

or on our honeymoon admire them. When

she falls asleep and I'm sure she'll stay down

I'll turn the night-light on and start counting

freckles, I wonder if I'll count them all

and if the universe has one for each

one she has, a star for every freckle,

I mean, then I'll feel like God tallying

all His stars, if that's what He does, or has

some angels do it for Him--when I’m dead

I hope He'll send me on patrol that way

so that it will be like seeing the world,

which I wonder if I'll do before I

die, or better, seeing Miss Hooker in

the friendly darkness, just the right amount

of light to help me see that I'll never

hold forever to her, we have to die

and then up in Heaven, if I've been good

enough and of course she'll surely be, it's

eternity is what we'll have but as

for now, ten years old to her 25,

I go to Sunday School and gaze on her,

listen, too, but largely look, because death

is the thing to find at the end of it

all and I don't want to be too afraid

of dying, death is the beginning of

living, don't ask me why, it just feels right.

Before we fall asleep we shake on it.

 

 

1966

 

After Sunday School I see Miss Hooker

to her car and, on the way, imagine

that I'm walking her home from a movie

or pizza or ice cream or stroll around

the duck pond, or sometimes all of these if

I can dream fast enough. When I open

her front door it's her car door again. I

touch it where she touches it when she climbs

in. This is as close as I'll ever come

to taking her hand myself, I guess, since

I'm only 10 and she's 25 and

the difference is--let me think--fifteen

years so there's no future for us. But then

Christ died nineteen hundred and sixty-six

years ago and rose from the dead three days

later so nothing's impossible, if

it's really true. It's a matter of faith,

they say, and if I don't have enough then

I can't go to Heaven and may even

go to Hell. Miss Hooker isn't Jesus

but she's closer to Him than I am--she's

my Sunday School teacher. I guess that means

that Preacher's even closer than she is

and there may be someone closer than he

is, and on and on. I've still got time to

live a holy life and beat 'em all to

heck and if I get an early start then

maybe Miss Hooker will notice and fall

in love with me and maybe God will see

and Jesus, too, Who sits on God's right hand,

and then have mercy on me and work one

of His miracles, maybe stop time like

Joshua stopped the sun, maybe that's kind

of the same thing, until I can catch up

to Miss Hooker and ask her for a date

and of course she'll have to say yes because

it's God's will and not only His but mine,

too, and then there's Jesus, Who has to go

along because He's really God Himself,

or something like that, I'm fuzzy about

the details. And ditto the Holy Ghost.

So I'll take her out for cheeseburgers and

then to the park, where maybe we'll swing

and see saw and the slide's good, too--I'll bring

some wax paper to make the sliding fast,

and then I'll be waiting at the bottom

of the slide to catch her, she'll come down zoom,

and maybe she'll scream like a little girl

but I won't let her plop on her rear end

but save her and while she's there in my arms

we'll kiss and that will be the end of it,

I'll kneel beneath the moonlight or at least

a lamppost and ask her won't she make me

the happiest man in the world and show

her the ring I bought her and God will nudge

her to say Yes, yes, oh yes, Gale, I'm yours

for Eternity or at least the rest

of our lives, and I'll say, Golly, that's keen,

and the rest will be history, what with

jobs and a house and a couple of cars

and a boat and a color TV and

not one but two bathrooms, and then children,

as many as we can do, wherever

they come from, and a piano for her

because the one in class is out of tune

and some keys stick and the swivel-stool won't

swivel anymore. And dogs and cats and

tropical fish that don't eat one another

and a snake and some white mice to feed him

—or her—but they don't have to be white. When

 

Miss Hooker gets in I turn my head so

I don't see too much of her legs above

the knees because that would be a sin and

if I keep sinning, I don't want to but

somehow I can't help myself or God won't

help me, then I'll never have a snowball's

chance in Hell at her. Then she smiles and I

smile, too, but there's more love in mine than hers,

or if it isn't more then it's different,

the true-love kind, the let's-go-steady kind.

Still, you never know what girls are thinking,

not that she's a girl. Maybe God's told her

about our future together and sworn

her not to spill the beans. I can only

hope. And then Miss Hooker drives away and I

walk home from church, the same way I came

but in reverse, but not exactly so

because if it was exactly so then I'd

be walking backwards—I may be sinful

but I'm pretty smart to have flunked first grade

but I get what numbers are about now,

how they add, subtract, and multiply,

and how you can divide them, but I'm still

not too hot at that. Nobody's perfect.

 

 

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

 

 

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