The Meeting

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 4 No. 3, "On Jordan's Stormy Banks: Religion in the South." Find more from that issue here.

for Aunt Neva 


Lord Gal

you have no idea

what meeting meant to me

Why I’d walk these seven miles

to Burning Springs School

ever’ day of this world

and ever’ 6 months of this world

there’d be a revival

starting sundown

and going til either

all the souls had been saved

or the preacher grew hoarse

whichever came first

So I’d come home

and eat supper

and then a whole big gang of us

would walk Fogertown Road

up to where Burning Springs Church of God

is still yet standing

And to tell you the truth

I could not tell you a word the preacher said

All the fun was in the coming and the going

Well there was one night

that we were all there

and about the time

that the preacher had worked himself into a fever

and the people were shouting Glory

and shaking full of the Lord

Troy Estridge came stumbling drunk

into the churchhouse

and set himself pretty as you please

right between me and your Aunt Lucy

Well he went to talking right big and out loud

and I was ashamed

and told him to go outside

if he was going to carry on like that

Well sure enough he up and left

and then we heard a scuffle

He and David Turner had got into a fight

over David’s sister, Lena

See David didn’t believe

Troy was good enough for her

and soon enough there was a knife

in David’s stomach

Well I reckon all hell broke loose

and soon there was fire cracking

from guns swinging in drunk men’s hands

in the vestibule of the church

And I can assure you

that it is a better woman than me

who can tell

which was in the worser condition

David or the gun

Whatever the reason

his aim was less than straight

and he caught Dennis Thompson right in the chin

while trying to find his target in Troy

Well the preacher opened a window

and in the midst of more screaming

than a mid-wife would hear in a lifetime

we began to crawl out the back of the church

The crowd was pushing and shoving

as Lucy and me inched our way along

and when we got to the altar

Old Sis Hogg Jones was there on her knees

paying no more mind to us

than if we were a flock of chickens

squeezing into the henhouse at feeding time

And then she caught my eye

and stopped her praying long enough to say

“Neva, why do you worry

we are in the Lord’s house

and whatever could happen to us here?

Why this is just a sign of what’s to come

And you may well believe

I for one am not surprised

Now just kneel down here

and pray with me

for these poor souls

the devil has marked for sure to die”

I said “Thank you kindly Sister Hogg

but I believe I’ll just go along here for the ride”

So out the window I went

along with all the others

And bye the bye

the shooting stopped

and David was taken to Daddy Doc’s

who assured us

it was only due to his belt buckle

that he was still alive

And we all went home

with stories

and more excitement

than three revivals could generally raise

And next evening

you can be sure

I was at the meeting

though I could not tell you

a thing the preacher had to say