This issue we begin a quartet of enchanting Sunday School poems by Gale Acuff. In ‘Simple’ Acuff demonstrates that rare skill in an adult writer: the ability to credibly convey in a convincing tone the way the world appears through a child’s eyes.
See you in 2018 Vol. 1 for another charming episode at Sunday School!
In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said that if
we have an enemy we should love him.
Or her. And if he wants to take our cloak,
to let him. Whatever a cloak is. Or
her. And to give him our coat, also. Or
her again. She says that Jesus said so
and He’s the Son of God. That’s good enough
for me, I guess. No wonder they killed Him.
They didn’t get away with it because
He rose from the dead. It took three days. Me,
if I had to rise from the dead, without
any help from God, I mean, I’d still be
trying to rise at the end of the world.
I’m small for my age. 10. Miss Hooker says
– and she’s our teacher and she ought to know
– that when I die my soul goes to Heaven
to be judged. She says that in our church that we
don’t think the soul just hangs around until
Judgement Day but that it goes lickety
-split to Heaven. I guess it hardly has
the time to know that it’s not still inside
a body. It shows up at God’s throne and
He asks an angel to pass Him the Book
of Life and the angel obeys, that means
he does what he’s told, or she, and God looks
through the Book and hunts up the name and if
He finds it you get to stay in Heaven
but if He don’t – doesn’t – you go to Hell.
She says it’s that simple. I wonder if
God wears glasses. He’s older than Father and
Grandfather and all the folks who’ve ever
lived and ever will. That’s powerfully
old. Miss Hooker says that we need to pray
everyday to be forgiven for our
many sins. I don’t think I have many
but I’ve been wrong before, about plenty
of things. Like the one about the screen door
on that submarine to keep out the fish.
That made sense to me. It keeps out the bugs
at our house. But a screen door in a sub,
that’s short for submarine, would let the sea
in. Then the sailors would drown. They’re sailors
even though they’re underwater. Well, not
underwater all the time. But on land
are they still sailors? I rest my case. When
Sunday School’s almost over Miss Hooker
tells one of us to say the Lord’s Prayer
and we all say it along with him. Or
her. This morning was my turn. I stumbled
because I was thinking about the screen
door on that submarine. It might work out
when the sub isn’t underwater but
floating on the top. It would keep out birds.
Then there may be a fish who likes to leap
out of the water and back in again.
In that case he’d bounce right off it. Or she.
So I guess that I’m not entirely wrong,
entirely means completely. Only sin
is entirely wrong, and I never pray
to be forgiven for being stupid.
If I die in being-stupid I won’t
go to Hell. If I die in sin, I will.
Someone might say that sinning is stupid
but they’re just mincing hares. Hares is rabbits.
For more by Gale Acuff in The Font, visit the 2018 Vol. 1 poetry page On the Workings of the Student Mind.