a poem a day for a year #95

by Amy Turn Sharp


parsonage
become a minister and get a free house
a place to live
my grandfather the minister
he moved around a lot
had a lot of houses
where he put his fire and brimstone
where he planted his backyard judgment
where he parked his big old car


the church I grew up in had a lovely old house
where the minister and his family lived
I wanted to live there
the church fascinated me
like a bug study
like a microscope slide
everyone in the church was perfect
and I was not
I did not fit in
I was a bad person
because inside of my mind there lived a little man
the man must have been the devil
because he told me all sorts of terrible things
because he whispered the opposite of good

I babysat for a local minister in high school
and I would snoop all around their house
my favorite things to look at
the old photo albums in their bedroom closet
bikini sexy shots with beers and beaches and giant fish
vacations and early 80's dance parties
and I loved seeing the minister and his young wife
smiling
even bigger than Sunday morning Jesus smiles
I would snap the book shut and run to the kitchen
I would dance around the room
with their gorgeous bright children
and sing this little light of mine
as we drank milk and felt the breeze from the open windows
I would tell the little man in my head to shut up
as we sang it out clear and true
hide it under a bushel
no
I'm gonna let it shine


and for decades after those summer nights
I would imagine that everyone had a bunch of hidden light
a bunch of light that they just forgot about
that burns all out
that never shines
that was stolen by the devil
that was planted in my grandfather's yard