I saw Miss Hooker's knees today. She's my
Sunday School teacher and it's a sin, I
mean to see her knees. I might go to Hell
for it but it was an accident so
maybe God won't burn me to a cinder
in His mercy. She was crossing her legs
and if it makes any difference I
love her and want to marry her one day,
forget that she's already old, I'd guess
twenty-five, and I'm only ten, but God's God
and you can't get miracles anywhere
else, so every night I pray like heck
that He'll work it all out for us, maybe
keep Miss Hooker twenty-five until I
can get old enough so that people won't
talk that she's too old when I'm old enough
to propose. I guess I'll get down on one
knee like they do on TV and dangle
a ring in front of her and hope she bites,
which she really has to, seeing as how
God already took the trouble to get
me that far. That would also make up for
my seeing her knees, which was, like I say,
and would swear on the Bible, a mistake
– unless God planned it that way, set a trap
so I'd fall, but not too much, just enough
to fulfill His plan for me. I mean for
us, Miss Hooker and me. They were pretty
– her knees I mean, and a good team, and if
the rest of her is just as pleasant then
I can't complain, the rest of her I can't
see, I mean. What I do see looks fine, her
red hair and green eyes, though when the light's right
the left one, I mean her left one, looks blue.
Then there's that M&M mole on her nose,
a brown M&M I mean, but no hair
sprouting from it, and that dimple in her
chin and, best of all, a million freckles
like stars in the universe. A billion,
then. A trillion. Zillion. I'd connect them
if I could, the way you make a picture,
like the one of Jesus in our workbook.
Sometimes after Sunday School I walk her
to her Ford Falcon and open her door
and look away, but at nothing, when she
climbs in, and don't look back at her until
I feel it's safe. And then I shut the door
hard so that it won't pop open again
when she drives off or is rolling out of
my sight. It wouldn't do to have her dead,
not if I'm not going to go to Hell.
This morning after Sunday School I said
I love you, ma'am, to her, but forgot that
her window was still rolled up, yet still she
heard, which is a kind of miracle, too,
but as I was walking home it hit me
halfway that maybe she just read my lips.
Aw, Jesus Christ, I cried at the sun. I
hope God didn't hear me but I'm not counting
on it – and it's a thing men do, love God
but not go overboard, fear Him but don't
be mortified because, after all, He's
one of us, kind of, or at least Jesus
was, or is that is? I've got to be brave.
Anyway, Miss Hooker smiled. I saw her
tongue and some of the inside of her mouth,
and two gold teeth. And some gum.
Sometimes at night I hold my pillow close,
or on cold nights, when we let the dog in,
her. I can't live without you, I whisper.
But she's already asleep, poor baby.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Cardiff Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, and many other journals in eleven countries. He is the author of three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.