Posted tagged ‘poem for Sundays’

Sunday Poem (Mother, Daughter, in Father-Son Realm)

February 21, 2010

Script (Poem for Sundays)

A poem for Sundays–perhaps more of a story than poem.  Thanks as always for reading.


Pictures hung in the Sunday School downstairs:
men mostly, whose long-haired, but not hippified, heads
were highlit with gold, clouds, doves,
and, hovering above, goatee-shaped
wisps of flame.

In the actual nave hung
only a spare metal cross,
lit by shafts of dust-mote-
dropping day.

Whenever the minister made an important point, he cupped
his hands together,
the fingers separate but clenched, the pinkies nearly throbbing
with tautness.  He used the gesture
to symbolize a knot.  But also growth.
Tense knotty growth.  How hard
it all was, how simple.

I watched the terse bend of knuckle closely, the extended
half-wound fists.  But, as the sermon droned, I turned to
other hands:  my own inside short white gloves, the
worn seam
tracing their perimeter,
like a railroad track en route to itself;
my mother’s, bare, cool, soft.
I picked up her fingers,
one by one, as if to find beneath them,
a way of passing time.

Then, just as my father’s shaved crust of chin
nodded over the crisp edge of Sunday shirt collar,
she quietly rotated
the bulletin on top of a hymnal and
modeled my name in script.
She used one of the short pencils stored in the pews
for new parishioners.  I, taking off one glove
to firmly grip the wood,
copied her letters slowly,
feeling each curve
as a blessing, a secret blessing,
for we were interlopers in that
realm of fathers/sons/ghosts,
the ones who snuck beneath the shafts of light,
then basked in them,
we women.

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)