Some Keep the Sabbath
You squirm and wiggle on my lap
sweaty as I, your cotton skirt, like mine,
clinging to legs and thighs, your hair
a wet blur across your scalp, your spirit
strangely weighted by the atmosphere.
Your eyes take in the rows and rows of people.
Families with mannered kids and cooing babes
old men who wheeze, women whose palsied heads
are bowed in prayer or raised in praise.
You will bring questions to me.
The singing, broken harmony, uneven unison
the words so unfamiliar you make no attempt to follow,
listening, instead, as my strange alto confidently moves
with organ’s plain, slow steps, piano’s bright accompaniment.
Your eyes most often go that way.
The hands that play those keys are hands whose warmth you know.
The sermon, spoken by a man younger than I
yet years more fervent, the sermon bores you
so you squirm and bounce and do the things
no four-year-old who’s used to church would do
and I, knowing you’ve given my secret out
contemplate the comments that will
buzz along the rows of butterbeans
rustle in the cornfields
and flit around the corners of Cox’s grocery.
The invitation hymn begins,
oozing around us as we cling
to what is still familiar — just each other.
I find one hand touching your shoulder
feel my knees tighten around your legs
only the limp cotton of our skirts
knowing the desperation of my grip.