For a few years after the children left,
I walked the cold mile each week
to a soul-shaking, snake-charming, tongue-speaking church,
an open hall of concrete block and cheap paint.
Most Sundays I found comfort there,
my own demons drowned out
by the hollering and spell casting
the preacher man called prayer.
Until the day a visiting pastor
nearly tore the roof off the place,
threatening the kind of hellfire
only we faithless know.
As I walked from the church,
he called to me to stop a while.
Up close, I could see the singed skin
of his hand, the puckering of his face
where he’d gotten too close to the fire.
Oh, how the things we do
reflect back on God.
He put my hand in his.
I leaned close, hoping to smell
the sweet scent of dogs and dirt
and the boy I knew before.
Don’t worry, sis, he said quietly.
I won’t tell.
Addy Robinson McCulloch
Addy Robinson McCulloch was a finalist for the 2014 Fairy Tale Review inaugural poetry contest and received a Best of the Net nomination from vox poetica in 2014. A graduate of Duke University, Addy is a freelance writer and editor whose clients include Pearson Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her work has appeared in publications such as Redheaded Stepchild, 234journal, the Iodine Review, What Matters, an anthology of poetry from Jacar Press; and Get Out of My Crotch: 21 Writers Respond to America’s War on Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health.
Photo: Heather Holtorf