Singer

Singer
By Gale Acuff
 

I love Miss Hooker more than I love God,
I guess, which, I guess again, is a sin,
but she’s my Sunday School teacher and she
tempts me so I can’t help myself even
though temptation’s not her fault and I’m not
sure it’s even mine so I’ll blame God, He’s
the One Who made us but if I’d made her
I couldn’t improve on His work, red hair
and green eyes and freckles, more than enough
for three more people, maybe even more.
Miss Hooker’s 25 and I’m just 10
so the chances of us ever getting
hitched are pretty slim but that’s what God’s for,
making a miracle if I pray hard
enough, and I could use Miss Hooker’s help
but I doubt that she’s got it bad for me

–she probably likes grown men, guys who shave
and have hairy chests and legs and maybe
backs, and hair in their nostrils and who speak
like Father speaks, or God in the movies,
in a real deep voice and even have jobs,
money helps when you try to get a gal
so you can pay for the hamburgers and
banana splits and movie tickets and
bring her flowers, which aren’t cheap unless you
pick them yourself and then she’ll think you’re poor
or maybe a little crazy although
some gals like a-little-crazy but not
Mother, she’s all business. I brought home my

report card yesterday and made straight-As
–I’m not bragging, I just know the system
–and only one B, in Conduct, and she
yelled at me, I don’t care how smart you are,
young man, but if you can’t shut up in class
good grades don’t mean a pecking thing. Father
had to sign it because she wouldn’t and
he didn’t even see it, the B, just
said, Not too shabby, boy, not bad at all,
and smiled and winked and I told him about
Mother and before he could say something
I told him that I’m sweet on a woman
but I didn’t say who, or is it whom,
just that she was older and he replied,
Well, it might be a good experience,
whatever that means. I think it means that

I’ll never snag her but I didn’t ask
why because he was reading the Sports page
and I respect that. Yes sir, I said. So
I went back to Mother and asked her if
she was still sore. Thread this needle
for me, she ordered, rubbing her eyes as she
rolled her chair away from the Singer. It’s
on wheels, the chair I mean. Ezekiel
is what I thought of and I’m not sure why
but I threaded the needle and before
she could say Thank you, so I don’t know if
she was going to, I said it aloud,
Ezekiel I mean, and she said, Damn,
I pricked my finger, which was the first time
I ever heard her swear but that’s alright,
she was in pain and when I grow up I

want to be a doctor and married to
Miss Hooker and buy her a Cadillac.
We’ve got an old Ford but it’s got four wheels,
too. Father says, It gets us where we want
to go. He has a way with words because
he’s an Assistant File Clerk and sometimes
when he drives off to work in the morning
his hubcaps look like they’re spinning backwards,
the car’s I mean. Ezekiel went up
and saw everything and came back down
but I forget what happens next. I’m sure
Miss Hooker knows. I’ll ask her next week in
Sunday School but if I forget I can
always bring it up on our honeymoon
if I get my miracle. If not, damn.

 

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Gale Acuff has had poetry published in several literary magazines including Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Arkansas Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, 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.

This piece of poetry has been picked from a series of poems where Gale Acuff has portrayed a young boy writing about being in love with Miss Hooker, his Sunday School teacher.
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