Whitewash

By Gale Acuff

In Sunday School today because of ice

and snow I was the only student, all

alone with Miss Hooker, my Sunday School

teacher as we talked about the normal

things we talk about when we’re together,

I mean that all of us children and she

talk about, beginning with the Lord’s Prayer

and then the lesson in our workbook, all

 

about Jesus as a boy going off

by Himself to the temple and showing

the old men there that they weren’t the sole ones

who knew beans about God, and then we sang

“The Old Rugged Cross” and then Miss Hooker

let me pick the next tune, hymn I should say,

so I sprung for “Old MacDonald” because

I like animal-talk and make it damn

 

good, or is that well, and anyway she

said that they were good but what she meant was

there was a whole slew of critters on board

the S. S. Noah, that gave me a chance

to imitate the lot of ’em, a few

of them anyway, elephants aren’t barn

-yard critters in these parts but I can send

 

up on them better than even Mel Blanc

and then we sang another song, this time

Miss Hooker picked it, “Rock of Ages” it

was, too slow for me and no animal

sounds and who knows what a rock says but then

Miss Hooker said that the very stones shall

cry, that’s from the Bible, I recollect

it some and speaking of stones if your son

wanted a piece of bread would you give him

one instead, a stone I mean, I say thee

nay–I swiped that from Thor in the comic

book, he’s a god, too, I told Miss Hooker

 

so but she shushed me and while I was shushed

called him a false god and Odin falser

and said Let’s pray and so we did, the Lord’s

Prayer again, followed by Miss Hooker

begging God to wash my soul as white as

snow–good luck with that, I said, not so loud

that she could hear but God might’ve yet I

kind of fear Him less, ditto Jesus. And

the Holy Ghost. So maybe this is love.

 

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in literary journals and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine, where he teaches at Arab American University.

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