What She Says
Crinolines scratching her skinny legs,
she disrupts Sunday school,
says Jesus might have walked
on a sandbar,
The teacher demands punishment,
smirks as Mother cuts a willow branch,
fresh for switching.
At dinner, she tells her uncle
she likes his cigarettes.
but Mother disagrees,
says her child will never smoke.
The child steps between trees,
scatters moldy leaves,
uncovers the lidded jar:
stolen cigarettes, matches,
hidden behind sweetshrub.
she flees in shadows
on the pine-strewn floor.
She runs past the jar
hidden by sweetshrub,
down the path to her granite chair
where she talks to God, listens
as the creek gurgles over rocks.
When I wrote songs that questioned belief
and dared sing them in church,
a woman said Beautiful,
but why don’t you write happy songs?
When one of my jobs was a hospital secretary
and my own diagnosis depression,
another employee leaned over my desk,
demanded Get over this!
When color faded to a gray stain
and paramedics knocked on my door,
I went to a doctor to unravel my darkness
but instead was told Take this medicine.
When I wrote a song that soared above clouds
and sang it one Sunday morning,
the congregation nodded, even smiled,
then said Write another one.
When the hospital work became intolerable
and I gave a two-week notice,
the other employees frowned,
asked What about health insurance?
When I threw away the pills,
said I’d rather die,
the doctor disagreed,
predicted You cannot do this alone.
When I chose a different path
on city sidewalks,
leaned into fierce wind
and walked at the edge
of forest, sleet slicing
against my face.
smeared paint across canvas,
wrote, and finally,
I listened again:
like snow falling at midnight.
When people see me now
they say You are different.
Yes. It happened
when you looked away.
Linda Wimberly is a writer, artist, and musician from Marietta, GA. Her poetry has appeared in Gyroscope Review, Lunch Ticket, Stone River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems, Kalliope and others and a short story appeared in Cricket. She is a self-taught, abstract artist. (lindawimberly.com)