"Sunday School" by Tanya Grae

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Sunday School

our preschool teacher leads This little light of mine
& What can wash away my sins & asks me to recite
the memory verse as she leans her ear I whisper
Be kind to one another & claim a star I want to be
so good even better never the one put in the corner
for being sassy we learn God in His glory made a garden
then Adam then Eve & told them not to eat the fruit
from that tree & how the snake gave Eve the idea to eat
anyway because what good is not knowing? I’d eat that apple too
it’s so hard to be good our teacher prays the offering
A-men & hands a daisy beach pail to the cow-licked boy
& sends him around to collect our quarters & dimes
& invites us forward to accept salvation & smiles when
I raise my hand Who made God? but her face stones
her Pardon me? so shrill my attention cuts to the open
window & breeze & bright tissue square collage
above the pines the water tower stands as we sing Praise God
from whom all blessings flow
then tidy & say goodbye
& the church bus delivers me home I swing open the screen door
peel down to my slip & bare feet & run outside to lie
heathen on the grass under the Mississippi Flyway my arms wide
miles high a gospel of blackbirds ministering away


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Tanya Grae

Tanya Grae is the author of Undoll (YesYes Books, 2019), a National Poetry Series finalist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, New Ohio Review, Post Road, Poets.org, and other literary journals. The recipient of several awards, including two Academy of American Poets Prizes, she holds an MFA in poetry and fiction from Bennington College. She teaches at Florida State University while finishing her PhD and lives in Tallahassee.

Photo Credit: Staff

Greg Houle