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Contributor: Gale Acuff

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Miss Hooker crosses her legs up high and
locks her right foot behind her left ankle.
She's my Sunday School teacher and I love her
and want to marry her but I don't know
why. And we'll have children but I don't know
how. I just have a feeling, or a hint.
She's too old for me, nearly thirty, and
I'm 9. By the time I'm 30 she'll be
--don't tell me, I'm good at arithmetic
--51. That's pretty darned old, too old
to have babies, I think, wherever they
come from. I think it's against the law. But

in the Bible who's that old lady who
thinks she's too old but has one anyway?
It's hard to pay attention in class, what
with Miss Hooker's red hair and blue eyes. It's
real red hair, too, not out of a bottle,
I can tell, and besides, Father said so
at supper last night. Miss Hooker's dresses
are a little short, Mother says. Father
smiles but doesn't say anything. How short
is a little short, I ask. Eat your peas,
she says. I wonder if her hair is real.
Father says, It's real, alright--I know real
red hair when I see it. He looks at me
and winks. I wink back. Mother doesn't see.
It's our secret. I wish I knew them all

but I guess I'm too young. I can marry
Miss Hooker when I'm 18. That's the law,
I think. That's nine years from now. Nine years is
the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost times
3. That's a lucky number unless you
go to Hell and I sure as Heaven don't
want to and I don't know all the rules yet.
Miss Hooker will be 39--still old
but not 51 and good for babies
but just barely. Where do babies come from,
I ask Mother, during dessert. Peach pie.
She drops her fork. Father tries not to laugh.
Another smile, but into his plate, and
no wink this time. But he says, Yes, Honey
--where do babies come from? We'd like to know.
Mother's face turns the red of Miss Hooker's
hair, or almost. The hospital, she says.
Eat your pie. I want ice cream, too, I say.
Yes, Father says. We want ice cream. Ice cream.
Mother says, You know where the icebox is.

Tomorrow's Sunday so it's back to church,
then Sunday School, for more Miss Hooker.
I tried it myself--crossing my legs and
hooking my foot behind my ankle. Ouch.
I'm almost finished with dessert when I
ask Mother if she can do it, too. Oh,
Father says--I'll bet you can't. He's smiling
right at her this time. She's smiling back. Who
do you think taught her, she says. And shows us.
I wish that I had married her myself.

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I've had poems published in many journals and have authored three books of poetry. I've taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.
--(Mr.) Gale Acuff


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