Tag Archives: Gale Acuff

Between

by Gale Acuff


Nobody came to Sunday School today
except for me and Miss Hooker because
I live close enough to walk even through
the snow and she has an old four-wheel drive.
Mother says that it isn’t feminine
to drive a Jeep. When she said it Father
chuckled and Mother frowned even deeper
but he had the sports page in front of him
so she couldn’t see but I could, I sit
between them at breakfast, lunch, and supper
but not in the center of the table
of course–that’s for the plastic grapes, three kinds
there are, red, white, and blue–but in between
the two on my side of the table. Once
I sat on the other side and still in
between but that made Mother nervous, she
said so, so I got up and moved across,
not that I walked over the table but
around Father’s end and into my chair
I don’t walk behind Mother, that makes her
jumpy, too, I can feel the eye in back
of her head following me, or maybe eyes
if I don’t make her out a Cyclops. So
it was just Miss Hooker and yours truly
to sing a couple of hymns, I can’t sing
to save my life but I hope my soul still
is, at least I got baptized and I’ve been
to three tent-meetings where I got saved all
over again, and then Miss Hooker told
the one about Joseph and his coat of
many colors, in Sunday School I mean,
which I know all about because Dolly
Parton sings that one. Father likes her, too.
She’s got big assets, he said, but don’t tell
your mother. I won’t, whatever they are.
Then it started to snow again and she
offered to drive me home, did Miss Hooker,
but I told her, No thank you, ma’am, I want
to walk and anyway I’ve got rubbers.
You would’ve thought I told her I love you
because she said, Pardon me, or rather
asked it like a question with the answer
built in. Oh, she said–you mean overshoes.
Miss Hooker’s a Yankee but I don’t
hold that against her, the War’s over. Snow
all the way home. Glory hallelujah.

 

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Vision

by Gale Acuff


Sometimes when I looks at the Crucifix
behind Miss Hooker in Sunday School class
I see her, not Jesus, hanging there, so
I blink and He’s back in place and she is,
too, in her big red plastic chair where she
sits and tells Bible stories, some pretty
damn good. I like Jonah and the whale and
Moses parting the Red Sea best, also
when he throws down his staff and it turns
into a snake and then Pharoah’s flunky
does the same but Moses’ snake eats his snake
and that’s God’s power, Miss Hooker says, He
doesn’t work black magic but miracles
that ought to make a believer out of
anybody. Still, some do not believe
she says, and she’s got that right, and then some
of us believe and sin all the same since
Adam and Eve did it first and we’re their
grandchildren and The sins of the father
shall be visited upon the children
or something like that. But I won’t have kids
because one day I’ll marry Miss Hooker,
she’s 25 to my 10, but when I’m old
enough to have a decent job and save
enough dough she’ll be too old for kids, I
don’t really know why and I don’t really know
where babies come from anyway and it
must be a secret because my folks won’t
tell me when I ask and when I ask her,
Miss Hooker I mean, she says to ask them
and if I didn’t know better I’d say
that they’re all sinners, they won’t spill the truth
but then again they’re not lying, maybe,
but when you know the score but you don’t come
out with it then if that’s not lying what
is? I prayed about that last night. I asked
God in the name of Jesus but then fell
asleep before I got the answer or
just didn’t hear. I’ll try again tonight.
And I’ll ask what I forgot to last night,
why I see Miss Hooker on the Cross. I
hope He doesn’t say Because you want her
dead. It isn’t true. I just want me saved.

 

Schism

by Gale Acuff


In Sunday School today I made the sign
of the Cross–I’m not even Catholic
and neither are the other Methodists
in the classroom, including Miss Hooker,
our teacher. Her hand slapped over her mouth
when she saw me, and after class–she cut
it short with a pretty fast Lord’s Prayer
–she asked me what I thought I was doing
so I said, Something I saw someone do
on TV. Oh, she said. She was standing
but she sat down, loaded. We don’t do that
in our church, she explained–Catholics do
it in their church. Oh, I said–I got you.
Then she let me go. What were we thinking?

 

Homerun

by Gale Acuff


I’m going to go to Heaven because
Miss Hooker will, she teaches me Sunday
School, all about God and Jesus and who
am I leaving out? That’s right, the Holy
Ghost. And I’ll never marry her on earth,
which is what I want to do since she’s too
old, 25 to my 10, and God says
that time doesn’t go any faster for
one person than it does another, that’s
probably in the Bible somewhere since
everything else seems to be. And there’s no
marriage in Heaven, either, that for sure
is true because Miss Hooker said it was,
she just forgot where it is, so at least
I can spend Eternity with her and
never miss a day, if there are any
days left, getting a good look at her red
hair and green eyes and freckles and painted
fingernails, which Mother says are a sin
but then she’s old, almost 35 and
maybe her toenails, too, I can’t tell, she
doesn’t wear open-toed shoes to class but
one day I’ll find oiut. I wonder if they
match. I asked Mother but she said, Harumph.
I asked Father and he put down the sports
page and stared over my head and smiled. I
turned around to look but I saw nothing
so I wonder if he saw an angel.
I should’ve asked. So I can’t wait to die,
I hope it’s not a sin to say so. What
I should’ve said, and thought, because God reads
minds, is that I’m not afraid to because
I’m pretty sure that I’ll go to Heaven,
when I die I mean, because I ask God
each time I sin to forgive me. He does,
Miss Hooker says, if I’m sincere. I swear
I am. And I won’t have to wait too long
for Miss Hooker to pop up, there’s no time
up there so everything happens fairly
fast or maybe even all at once. But
if I go to Hell instead–and Miss Hooker
says we all deserve it–I’ll remember
her, her red hair for the roasting flames and
green eyes for envy and her freckles
for the stars I’ll never see again. And
her fingernails and toenails like stained
glass windows. I broke one with a baseball
but it was a homerun. It won the game.
I got grounded for six months. In Heaven
that’s nothing. That’s what Eternity is.