R. Flowers Rivera

Vera Geneva, 1939

What I am certain of. It is hot.

Today’s my birthday. I am six.

Rain and more rain. I can hear

What the stain glass hides.

Sounds like T. Ray peeing

Off the back porch when the night is

Dark and Fofo has all the sheets

Balled ’tween her knees. I have to pee.

Mama said to wait. I got better sense

Than to ask again. Reverend

Fox is shouting to the congregation.

Only big-tittied, rawboned women

Catch the holy ghost. I will have to

Wait. I got the right build but

My chest is flat. Two hoecakes.

Mama never falls out. Her eyes just cry

Quiet tears. One at a time.

I have to pee. Reverend Fox is

Calling for me to come. I move to go.

Mama’s hands stay my way. Here eyes

Say no. She’s shaking her head not yet.

We had to wait four hours but

Yesterday Miss Reena marcelled mama

Some pretty curls. The kind I can get

“Soon as you get a job.” There’s a stray

Piece sticking out at her temple. It could

Use one good bump with more

Heat. Reverend Fox says,

“God is calling. Who will listen?”

I look around. Mama pops my legs,

Faces me front. My panties feel damp.

I hope it’s sweat. I try harder

To hold still, to listen. He booms,

“Give the glory to God.” Six elders in dark serge

Suits and white gloves take their place

In the aisles. Two and two and two.

Right, middle, left. They pass the plates.

Glory is money. God is in a little room

At the back of the church. Behind a closed door.

I want to be a deacon, so I can see God, too.