by Gale Acuff
In Sunday School this morning we learned that
if you have a hundred sheep and just one
wanders off it’s a good thing to go
find it and fetch it back and put it with
the other 99. I raise my hand
and ask Miss Hooker who’s looking after
the 99 while I go hunt the one
who wandered off. She takes off her glasses
and sort of pinches the top of her nose, I
mean the bridge, I guess it is, that holds them
in place, otherwise your glasses would slide
off your face or just dangle near your mouth
while hooked around your ears, like hers I mean,
though I’ve seen some glasses where the ends don’t
curve around the ears to hold them on but
are just straight and in that case you’d lose them
–they’d fall right at your feet and shatter and
if your eyesight’s really bad then you might
accidentally step on them trying
to find them. Then she puts them back on and
says, Well, Gale, you’d have another shepherd
watch the 99 for you while you’re off
locating the one who wandered away.
Then she smiles. Oh, I say–well, there’s nothing
in this story about that. Parable,
she corrects me–it’s a parable. Oh,
I say. Well, isn’t that a kind of story?
Yes, she says. But you’ve just learned a new word.
Oh, I say. Tell us what the story means,
she says. Yes ma’am, I say. One sheep’s as good
as 99. Is that right? Well, she says,
in a manner of speaking, yes. Uh huh,
I say. I try again. Sheep don’t grow on
trees, I say, so don’t let them go to waste.
Well, she says, you may have a point. I reach
up to my cowlick but it’s still down flat
(Father’s Brylcreem–a little dab’ll do ya).
Then it’s time for the Lord’s Prayer. We bow
our heads and close our eyes but I peek–I
may get a glimpse of a lost sheep but all
I see is Miss Hooker with her legs crossed
and her glasses on the desk beside her.
She’s really beginning to get to me.