Childhood Religion

Childhood Religion

– from the chapbook Ordinary Things

By Jenny Billings Beaver

Walking into church
through the heavy door
onto just swept carpet.

A bulletin from Poppa,
gum to chew, pen from mom’s purse
I plop down in the back row pew

beside a brother to poke during prayer.
Velvet jade hymn books.
Communion’s leftover shot glasses.

The angled sunlight pinpoints my position
to the pulpit, I avoid the pastor’s eyes
intensified by glasses and puny frame.

I count ceiling wood panels
travel the cracks in the stained glass
wonder if it’s noon yet.

But Pastor Steve always runs over
clenches his fist to stress
the final, final point.

My brother and I plan our escape
head down, squeezing through the line
molding ourselves against the opposite doorway

avoiding his questions
his small talk
his too familiar handshake.

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