Engaged, Drought, Palm Sunday

By Gale Acuff



One day I'll be dead and my troubles will

be over but at Sunday School they say

that they'll just be beginning because I'm

a sinner and a terrific one, too,

but they don't mean a very good one but

a very bad one, or something like that.

Miss Hooker's my teacher and she tells us

children that when she dies she wants to go

to Heaven and live with God forever,

Jesus and the Holy Ghost, too, but I

think I'd be happier in Hell. There's more

to life than being happy, or maybe

I mean death, I mean that if I can find

happiness in Hell it might satisfy

in a way being happy in Heaven

can't and I even told Miss Hooker so

after class when it was too late for her

to get sore at me or chew me out with

all my classmates gone and anyway this

isn't regular school, she can't hit me

or send me to the principal's office

or make me write two hundred times I must

not be a wise guy in class, punishment's

harder to come by here but anyway


instead of yelling at me or calling

my parents in to haul me away she

just plopped down on her chair. Miss Hooker

took her glasses off, they broke up light

like a prism there for a split-second,

and she started crying and soon cried and cried,

weeping, the Bible says and well it should,

and I joined her and then came closer to

her and then touched her on her right cheek, that

would be her left and that's how I learned that

God lives, things are screwy but they fit together

even so and drew off a tear

with my pointing-finger, it stretched and

stretched until it snapped like a string of snot

so I wiped what was left on my shirt and

went back for more but by then Miss Hooker

had felt for the tissues in her pocketbook

and used a wad-full to stem the flow

and then looked at me and smiled and without

her glasses she looked naked but didn't

know that she was and that I was, too, so

to speak. I think this means we'll get married

someday. Or maybe that we just did.





When Sunday school finally ends, thank God,

I walk home as fast as I can to get

away from Him for another week, not

that I'm not happy to see Him Sundays

and I hope the feeling is mutual

but I think that if He really loved us

all, He'd show Himself, I mean like He did

when He was Jesus, I think that's right, Miss

Hooker says that Jesus was God come down

as a man but that He was also God's

son, which is a neat trick, to have it both

ways, but I told her that I don't understand

and if God was Jesus once on Earth

why can't He be God twice, after all, He

promised to return but I guess that no

one knows when but why the hell not now when

it starts raining and I'm barely halfway

home and didn't bring an umbrella since

the weather's changeable where we live and

anyway the sun was up and the sky

was blue to match the eyes in that photo

of Jesus on the wall behind the desk,

Miss Hooker's I mean, picture I mean, not

photo, and if I say a prayer not

to stop the rain completely everywhere

but only where it rains above my head

and on the trail that leads me to the back

door of our house, what's wrong about that, why

would it be a sin or another one

that my folks don't come to church at all but

sleep even unto, or make it until

I get home from church? Of course, I'm the one


who cooks our lunch and sets the table and

clears it and washes the dishes and dries

as well and empties their cluttered ashtray,

it's a kind of cup that runneth over,

ha ha, and I could use a little help,

have God or Jesus or the Holy Ghost

appear to Mother and Father and scare

'em into coming to service with me

and hang around while I'm in Sunday school.

I know for a fact that Father's fond of

women in pretty dresses and Mother

smiles at some of the high school boys as if

she knows what's really on their souls, it's not

God, exactly, but I'll bet when I'm old

sex won't be a sin so much as it seems 

now, I'll look at it the way God does, if

He exists but if He doesn't that won't

stop me. And then my folks go back to bed

when Sunday dinner's over and I'm ten

years old and still they haven't made a boy

or girl for me to play with and time's running

out and all I can figure is that

they've forgotten how and if there's one thing

I pray about, really pray about, that's

it, I want to raise up someone better

than I am, or help to do so, I don't

think my folks have it in them anymore,

not that I do myself but at least I've

got ambition. And mud on my good shoes.



Palm Sunday


I fell asleep in the pew at church this

morning but God let me go on, at least

the other people did because when I

woke it was all over, like the end of

the world but I survived it or like when you

take a trip but somehow miss it all, I think that

I did, I could be wrong because now it's

Sunday night and I'm reading a comic

book and just got to the end and I'm damned

if it isn't a continued story,

a two-parter at least and with my luck,

which is fairly lousy, a trinity

of stories, or is it a trilogy but

whatever it is it could be justice

come down on me and I have God to 

thank for that and Jesus and the Holy

Ghost, maybe that's like an Eleventh

Commandment, you don't get away with peace

without a little war thrown in, you don't love

somebody without an argument or

three, but anyway put me in God's place

and I'd probably be worse than He is,

another way of saying better but

how good can God get?


It was at Amen

when I came to and Brothers and Sisters,

heed the Word of the Most High when I fell

asleep and everything else in between

is either lost or it's Eternity

but as for possibilities maybe

there's a trinity there, too, I mean it's

both. After church, I ran into Preacher

on my way out, as if anyone could

avoid him, nobody leaves through the back

door and he pumped and pumped my ten-year-old

right hand until it was red and raw and

then asked me if I'd had a nice nap and

I blushed to match my palm and said I heard

every word, which in a way is true, or

might as well be, I don't listen much, God

comes to me in a different way but

Preacher can't understand. He's only saved.