Audio: Read by the author.
Vocal in the ordinary course of things
——————on the vastly
————superior merits of having lapsed
from a less-for-all-its-flaws-deforming
————of Christian worship my husband
has so far sweetly refrained from using
————as a case in point. But what
were we to do? When my mother said
————and looked that look, I could
see it all before me. Linda, she said, we
————insult him. We’d made alternate plans.
But the pastor—call him Grimly—had for
————shown up at her bedside to pray
while we muted “Take the A Train” (her
————and practiced the seven stages of
awkward. I’ll spare you the history
——————of the Ladies
————Aid. But consider my cousin Paul,
good soul, who drives out every Sunday in
————dark to light the furnace they can’t
afford to run all week. And in summer mows
————Consider the graveyard, its Emmas
and Gregers in modest rows, including
————whose team of horses panicked when
the train came through. Now imagine what
————to loosen my mother’s allegiance,
whose one fixed faith was kindness.
——————Even her funeral,
————she’d rather defer. In the end,
though I ought to confess some not-quite-
————my-mother back-and-forthing, Pastor
Grimly found he couldn’t in conscience
————the gathering we had in mind.
So rights-of-first-refusal for his dignity,
——————and thankfully back
————to Alternate Plans, which included
something more like love. Can I count on my
————forever? Probably not. But maybe
I’ll lighten up for a while on the
Linda Gregerson is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Prodigal: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She teaches at the University of Michigan.