by Gale Acuff
When Sunday School is over I leave with
the other children but say I forgot
something so that I can slip back inside
and talk to Miss Hooker alone. She’s our
teacher and a damn good one–darn, I mean.
I love her and I want to marry her
but I’m only 10 to her 25
or even more. So she’s already old
and won’t get any younger but neither
will I so it sort of balances out
even though I’m not good with numbers
–I flunked my last math quiz but God forgives
me even if my parents don’t. I love
Miss Hooker–when I’m old enough to date
I’ll ask her to the picture show and
she’ll say yes, I have faith she’ll say yes, and
then we’ll go have pizza, and chocolate
milkshakes for dessert, and then we’ll walk down
to the duck pond, behind the church, and see
if they sleep at night. We’ll hear them splashing
if not. Maybe the moon will be bright and
round and I won’t have to squint to see her
in the dark. On the other hand, if I
have to stand close to see her that will be
more romantic. I’ll look her in the eyes,
and she’ll tremble a little, but I won’t
say anything much except I love you
and Isn’t it a fine thing that we met
in Sunday School so many years ago
and Did you know I loved you even then?
And she’ll say Yes, but you were just a boy
but you’re certainly not now, no siree.
And I’ll say to her, I knew you were mine
from the moment you finished the story
of David and Goliath. You told it
as if you’d been right there watching it–wow.
And then I’ll kiss her and open my eyes
to see if she’s opened hers and if not
that’s a sure sign of love. Then I’ll ask her
Will you marry me, Miss Hooker? I’ll use
her first name, of course, whatever that is.
Or maybe I’ll say Baby or Sweetheart
and she can call me Honey or Darling.
Then we’ll get hitched and I’ll get a job or
go to college and then get a job but
either way we’ll have children, maybe ten
or twelve, and dogs and cats and fish and birds
and live in a big house in the country
and die. One of us will have to go first
–I’m not sure what’s best or fairest but I
don’t want to die and leave her alone but
then I don’t want her to die and leave me
alone. I’ll have to study about it.
When I get to the open door she’s still
sitting in her folding chair and looking
through her pocketbook like ladies do, like
they’ve lost something or maybe there’s treasure
at the bottom. When I clear my throat she
looks up. Oh, hello, Gale, she says. You want
something? Yes ma’am, I say: What hath God wrought?