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Busted Halo
feature: politics & culture
August 27th, 2007

The Calling

for my parents

 
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Why should she want to meet the young preacher waiting in the sitting room?

Paused on the landing, she fears his voice drifting up the stairwell deep and sweet as curing tobacco—pure

Arkansas sharecropper’s son,

reminder of a past her family barely survived. She trembles

when her mother laughs—freely, with abandon, without premeditation—

like a stranger.

She thinks: You won’t change me, Snake-charmer. She pictures him

in the hand-me-down suit he wears each Sunday,

knees prayed to a shine. She imagines

his brown hand resting on a gator-skin Bible rubbed smooth

with witness, the Bible resting on his left thigh dangerously close

to her mother’s best china cup.

Against her better judgment she recalls that his hair is black and full

as Gregory Peck's, that his eyes are brown and deep

as the Mississippi.

She wonders if her hazel eyes would take on that depth

if they were reflected in his.

His words vibrate deep,

accompany her steps like organ music

as she descends the stairs slow as an altar call.

She reaffirms her resolve:

I will not marry a soldier, a farmer, a preacher. I will not be widowed

by war, work, or God.

She pauses on the last step.

Smoothes the taffeta skirt of her best dress. Her crinolines whisper.

Her small, naked hand pales against a sea of deep green

the color he will mistake her eyes for until the day he dies.

 
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The Author : Daniel Nathan Terry
Daniel Nathan Terry's work has appeared in Oberon, The Southwestern Michigan Review, The River, and The Albion Review. His first collection of poetry, Days of Dark Miracles, was a finalist in two national book competitions: The Stevens Manuscript Contest and Elixir. He is currently enrolled in the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
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