Good Story

by Gale Acuff

heaven.jpg
CC0 Public Domain

 

When Miss Hooker dies I hope I’m there to
mourn, and I mean as her widower–I’m
in love with her, my Sunday School teacher,
even though she’s already old, I’d say
25, to my 10, but I can wait
until I’m 16 and she’s 31
and maybe by then age won’t matter much,
not that it matters much to me but her,
I’m not yet sure. When I’m 75
she’ll be 90 and when folks get that old
I guess they can do as they damn well please
only they probably do it slower.
But after she’s buried I’ll visit her

and talk to her and not just her stone and
not just the dirt and the grass beginning
to cover her up, her gravesite I mean,
and I’ll remind her about the Sundays
when she told those Bible stories and good
ones, as if she had been an eyewitness
to the ladies with all those lamps, and that
Prodigal Son and Good Samaritan
and David and Goliath and Moses
parting the Red Sea and turning his rod
into a snake that swallowed up Pharoah’s
magicians’, or God did, and Joshua
making the sun stand still, or God did, and
Jesus raising Lazarus and raising
Himself, or God did, but Jesus was God
so I guess it doesn’t really matter,
that’s if I’ve paid attention every week.
I’ll bring her flowers, too–maybe candy

as well, but since she can’t eat it and not
just because she lost her teeth but her life
I’ll help myself to it and tell her how
it tastes, and then I’ll get up off the ground
and say something like, Well, Baby, it’s time
to go now, and wonder if they have that
up there in Heaven like we know it here,
time I mean, and See you tomorrow–be
here, ha ha, then walk back home and look back
two or three times to see how she looks from
afar, and on a dreary day to see
if I can spot her ghost back there, or spy
her walking, even, resurrected and
following me but I won’t be afraid

too much because I’ll be old myself and
ready, more or less, to join her. I can’t
wait but still I’m patient and we’ll be
together forever if I merit
Heaven but if I go to Hell we’ll have
a problem ever seeing each other,
not that I deserve to see her but I
pray I’ll get at least a look before God
casts me into the Lake of Eternal

Fire, which is probably like a sewer
in flames, but if I can see she’s happy
and all in one piece and maybe even
younger, then I think I can take it, all
the moaning and groaning and frying skin
and muscles and fat and bones–I’ll keep her
last look in my mind even though my brain
is boiling and roiling in my skull and
there’s no relief from the punishment for
all my sins and the shame I’ll feel that I
had babies with a woman much too good
for me and I hope that God won’t hold it
against her and change His mind and throw her
in after me but at least we wouldn’t
be alone, but then again I’d watch her
being tortured by devils and she me.

I wonder if in Heaven she’ll have red
hair still, and green eyes and that mole on her
nose and all those freckles or if Heaven
has no color but looks more like fog or
those back and white photographs when someone
shook the camera when he pressed the button
or someone he was shooting trembled or
moved otherwise. She paints her toenails does
Miss Hooker, almost a different color
for every Sunday morning so I love
her from top to bottom. When I say my

prayers I say a special one for her,
that God will help her fall in love with me
and we’ll be always happy even when
her red hair turns white and her green eyes go
blank and her mole becomes a cancer and
her freckles cover her head like the mange.
Then life will have been too much for her and
I’ll come back home from a walk one afternoon
and find her dead on the couch but alive
in a way that you’ve got to live a life
to understand and when you do you don’t

have long yourself. That’s why they say God’s good.

 

 

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in many journals and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught tertiary English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

 

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