Gale Acuff


Without Miss Hooker I shall surely die
--she's my Sunday School teacher and one day
I'll marry her, if God answers my prayers
and He ought to, I say them every night,
sometimes more than once and even during
the day, that he'll keep her the age she is
forever until I catch up to her,
25 to my 10. So she's an old
lady but I don't care and anyway
she's not as old as my grandmother or
my mother so she's still got some life left.
Every Sunday after church I walk

her to her Ford Falcon and open her
door and look away as she gets in so
I don't see her legs, or not too much, which
would be a sin and anyway we've got
the rest of our lives for that kind of thing,
making babies--I'm not sure how it's done
but I think you do it in the bedroom
and in the bed, I mean in the sheets,
and in the dark, and maybe the curtains
can't be open, I'm not sure, there's a lot
I don't know about life, but maybe she'll
teach me the rest or I'll catch on when I
hit 25 to her own 25,
that is, if God will answer my prayers.
Every night after I say them I
can't sleep, just stare at the ceiling, looking

for something, I'm not sure what, but I'll bet
it's either God or Miss Hooker, maybe
both--they're both good. And maybe it's a sin
but if I saw Miss Hooker up there first
I'd reach for her and try to pull her down
--I'd like to touch her and I can't touch God,
He's hard to grab ahold of because He's
everywhere and anyway if I
get Miss Hooker then I'd get Him, too, for
He made everything and dwells in it all,
even me, but when I pinch myself just
to see if I'm really alive, I don't
quite feel Him. But sometimes when I dream we're

sitting on the couch, I mean Miss Hooker,
not God, and I, and watching Bonanza
and I've got my arm around her and she's
got her head on my shoulder, and it feels
pretty nifty. Even the commericials
are good then. And if she won't marry me
--and I can wait for the future as long
as it comes true, as true as the right-now
and the same for the past--I think I'll die,
but I'll never know until the time comes,
yet every day brings me closer to it
but just not fast enough. I slam her door
and she smiles at me. Her window's still closed.
When she mouths Goodbye I can read her lips
the way God reads hearts, I guess. Then she fires
up her engine and pulls away from me
and I want to run after her but don't,
just stand and watch her leave the parking lot.
Then I walk home, feeling a little like

Jesus. When I get back I spot my dog
trotting up to me. Come, I tell him, and
I will you make you fishers of men
He doesn't get it. I bring him his food
in the evening and say, Truly, one
of you will betray me.
He wags his tail.
In the morning when I see him again
I say, Touch me not, for I have not yet
ascended to my Father in Heaven
But, man, is he happy to see me. If
he saw me soar up into the sky he'd
bark and whine. I'd yell back down to earth, Lo,
I am with you always
, and come to him
in dreams, and maybe save his doggone soul.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. She 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) and has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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