VERA GENEVA, 1939


What I am certain of. It is hot.
today’s my birthday. I am six.
Rain and more rain. I can hear
what the stain glass hides.
Sounds like T. Ray peeing
off the back porch when the night is
dark and Fofo has all the sheets
balled ‘tween her knees. I have to pee.
Mama said to wait. I got better sense
than to ask again. Reverend
Fox is shouting to the congregation.
Only big-tittied, rawboned women
Catch the Holy Ghost. I will have to
wait. I got the right build but
My chest is flat. Two hoecakes.
Mama never falls out. Her eyes just cry
quiet tears. One at a time.
I have to pee. Reverend Fox is
calling for me to come. I move to go.
Mama’s hands stay my way. Her eyes
say no. She’s shaking her head not yet.
We had to wait four hours, but
yesterday Miss Reena marcelled mama
some pretty curls. The kind I can get
“soon as you get a job.”  There’s a stray
piece sticking out at her temple. It could
use one good bump with more
heat. Reverend Fox says,
“God is calling. Who will listen?”
I look around. Mama pops my legs,
faces me front. My panties feel damp.
I hope it’s sweat. I try harder
to hold still, to listen. He booms,
“Give the glory to God.”  Six elders in dark serge
suits and white gloves take their place
in the aisles. Two and two and two.
Right, middle, left. They pass the plates.
Glory is money. God is in a little room,
back of the church, behind a closed door.
I want to be a deacon, so I can see God, too.