Demon by Gale Acuff

Miss Hooker threw me out of Sunday School
for singing I guess Jesus loves me when
Yes, Jesus loves me are the correct words
and then let me back in near the end when
it was time to say the Lord’s Prayer and
she even made me lead the class in it
and was looking and listening as she
stood beside me to make sure I didn’t
crucify the prayer as well, that’s what
she said I did to “Jesus Loves Me,” too.
And she kept me after school, she set
free everybody but me and then had
me stand in front of her desk as she asked
Do you have a demon in you, Gale, that
makes you sin like you do in Sunday School
–in Sunday School!–because that’s a double
-sin that one day God will get you for and
when you go to hell Satan will get you
all over again even though you did
exactly what he hoped you would do? What
could I say? I’m sorry, Miss Hooker, and
I was just having a little fun, but
she answered with Some fun it will be when
your classmates burn in Hellfire because you
led them into sin, so we’d better pray
about this, young man, so we got down on
our knees, I’m only 10 to Miss Hooker’s
25 so I have less space to fall
and she talked to God with her eyes closed and
head bowed and her hands set like praying hands
but all I really remember was Lord,
help me to teach Gale the error of his ways,
Amen, because I had one eye opened
to watch her there, kneeling helplessly but
thinking herself mighty strong, like the meek
who inherit the earth, I guess, and when
she opened her eyes I closed my opened
one and she said, You may look now, Gale,
so we got to our feet and I’m damned if
I didn’t seem taller or at least she
was shorter. That’s how I know what love is,
or at least one kind, the kind that wants to
make babies even if you don’t know how,
which I don’t, but I think that it starts with
getting married, which we will, when I’m old
enough and she’s enough still young. I tried
to tell her so but instead I started to
cry. Which is good practice for when I’m grown.

 

One Response to “Demon by Gale Acuff”

  1. priscampbell Says:

    Wonderful poem! It makes me wonder if the poet went to a small town southern church that experience is so right on to things I exoerienced there about hellfire:-) The close to the poem was perfect.

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