Singer

by Gale Acuff

I love Miss Hooker more than I love God, 

I guess, which, I guess again, is a sin, 

but she’s my Sunday School teacher and she 

tempts me so I can’t help myself even 

though temptation’s not her fault and I’m not 

sure it’s even mine so I’ll blame God, He’s 

the One Who made us but if I’d made her 

I couldn’t improve on His work, red hair 

and green eyes and freckles, more than enough 

for three more people, maybe even more. 

Miss Hooker’s 25 and I’m just 10 

so the chances of us ever getting 

hitched are pretty slim but that’s what God’s for, 

making a miracle if I pray hard 

enough, and I could use Miss Hooker’s help 

but I doubt that she’s got it bad for me 

 

–she probably likes grown men, guys who shave 

and have hairy chests and legs and maybe 

backs, and hair in their nostrils and who speak 

like Father speaks, or God in the movies, 

in a real deep voice and even have jobs, 

money helps when you try to get a gal 

so you can pay for the hamburgers and 

banana splits and movie tickets and 

bring her flowers, which aren’t cheap unless you 

pick them yourself and then she’ll think you’re poor 

or maybe a little crazy although 

some gals like a-little-crazy but not 

Mother, she’s all business. I brought home my 

 

report card yesterday and made straight-As 

–I’m not bragging, I just know the system 

–and only one B, in Conduct, and she 

yelled at me, I don’t care how smart you are, 

young man, but if you can’t shut up in class 

good grades don’t mean a pecking thing. Father 

had to sign it because she wouldn’t and 

he didn’t even see it, the B, just 

said, Not too shabby, boy, not bad at all, 

and smiled and winked and I told him about 

Mother and before he could say something 

I told him that I’m sweet on a woman 

but I didn’t say who, or is it whom, 

just that she was older and he replied, 

Well, it might be a good experience, 

whatever that means. I think it means that

 

I’ll never snag her but I didn’t ask 

why because he was reading the Sports page 

and I respect that. Yes sir, I said. So 

I went back to Mother and asked her if 

she was still sore. Thread this needle 

for me, she ordered, rubbing her eyes as she 

rolled her chair away from the Singer. It’s 

on wheels, the chair I mean. Ezekiel 

is what I thought of and I’m not sure why 

but I threaded the needle and before 

she could say Thank you, so I don’t know if 

she was going to, I said it aloud, 

Ezekiel I mean, and she said, Damn, 

I pricked my finger, which was the first time 

I ever heard her swear but that’s alright, 

she was in pain and when I grow up I 

 

want to be a doctor and married to 

Miss Hooker and buy her a Cadillac. 

We’ve got an old Ford but it’s got four wheels, 

too. Father says, It gets us where we want 

to go. He has a way with words because 

he’s an Assistant File Clerk and sometimes 

when he drives off to work in the morning 

his hubcaps look like they’re spinning backwards, 

the car’s I mean. Ezekiel went up 

and saw everything and came back down 

but I forget what happens next. I’m sure 

Miss Hooker knows. I’ll ask her next week in 

Sunday School but if I forget I can 

always bring it up on our honeymoon 

if I get my miracle. If not, damn.

 

Mr. Acuff’s work has appeared in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo NickelThe Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.

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