Not much new at Sunday School today, save
Christ dying on the Cross again. He
does it every Sunday. Miss Hooker
sees to it. She’s my teacher and wants me
to go to Heaven when I die so she’s
down on sin and all for Grace, which I’ll get,
she says, if I pray to God in Jesus’
name to forgive me mine, my sins I mean,
no matter how rotten they are because
if I die more sinful than sinless then
I have to spend Eternity in Hell,
the bad place, the place for the wicked,
and burn there eternally, or my soul
will, my body just a husk, she says. So
maybe that’s why I wear husky jeans.
Today she pounded the piano and
we sang “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” which you
can dance to but dancing’s a sin, at least
in our church, so we just march like soldiers
but stop at killing, unless we’re killing
evil. Miss Hooker says that when I sin
Jesus cries. It’s right there in the Bible,
Jesus wept, that bit about Lazarus
coming back to life, his family bawling
and Jesus taking pity on them and
Lazarus, too, I guess. Where was sin then?
Miss Hooker didn’t say but if I raise
my hand to ask we won’t get out on time
and I have to walk back as it is, to
make lunch for my parents, who stay at home
Sundays, taking all day to read the news.
Bacon and eggs. Then I wash the dishes
and dry them. Why am I the only one
who goes to chuch, I asked them. You’re the one
who needs the Word the most, they say, without
looking up. Was it Father or Mother
who spoke? Sometimes they sound the same. No one
is without sin, Miss Hooker says. She should know,
she’s got red hair but God forgives her, or
Jesus, or both, so I guess I can, too.
Mother can’t. I’ll tell you about this world
–we’re not supposed to sin but we all do,
since Adam and Eve got the ball rolling,
so all we can do is sin as little
as we can and hope that it’s not too much
but even one sin is one sin too many.
I’m only 10 but I might live to be
90 and unless Jesus comes by then
I’m in for a lot more of the same
so sometimes I wish He’d show so that we
can get it over with. After Sunday
School today I told Miss Hooker so. Her
eyes went as wide as our good China plates
–well, that’s an exaggeration, I hope
not a sin–and she said, Thou shalt not tempt
the Lord thy God. I said, Yes ma’am–amen.
I don’t think I’ll be coming back next week.
It’s not that I don’t believe but I do.
I’ll have to find something else to kill time.
I hope it won’t be death. Oh, that’s funny.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.