Gale Acuff

In Sunday School today I led the class
in the Lord's Prayer. It wasn't easy,
having to rise and fold my hands into
one big fist just below my chest, and then
to remember all the words and still find
a moment to peek at Miss Hooker, my
Sunday School teacher, her red hair and green
eyes and all those freckles and her looking
like she was asleep or even dead. Now

I know how God must feel though it's okay
for Him to look at us, whatever we're
doing, but when I do so in Sunday
School it's probably a sin. I love her,
Miss Hooker, and last night I dreamt that we
were married. We'd been watching TV and
then she yawned on the sofa and said, Gale,
it's bedtime
, and I said, I guess you're right,
and yawned, too, as if my yawn kissed hers back.
Then we went into our bedroom and she
shut the door and we got undressed in front
of each other, so much so that we were

naked. Then we put on our pajamas,
which covered us up all over again.
Then she crawled into bed on her side and
I crawled in on my side and then she laughed
and said, You forgot to turn out the light,
and I said, Why don't you turn out the light,
and then she started to cry and then I
did, too. Then she said, I'm sorry I made you
and I said, I'm sorry I made you
So we dried each other's tears and shook

hands and kissed each other and I mean on
the lips, all our lips, loud enough to hear
if someone was standing outside the door.
Then we fell asleep, which is kind of like
death but not nearly as long. When I woke
it was Sunday morning and Miss Hooker
was gone, of course, because she was never
really there but in her own bed in her
own house. When I come to Amen I don't

even bother to say it because all
my classmates and Miss Hooker drown me out.
And I almost forget to close my eyes
after a few moments' peeking and now
I don't want to open them again. Gale,
Miss Hooker calls—Gale, are you alright? I
fall across my desk and the girls scream. When
I come to I'm sitting on the floor with

Miss Hooker looking deep into my eyes.
Don't move, she says. Just sit for a spell.
Someone brings me a cup of water. I
sip it but it's salty. I've bitten my
tongue—now the water's red like Miss Hooker's
hair. She helps me up and into my seat,
then dismisses the class but most of them
have already left. They're spreading the word.