Prairie Poetry   
  Neither Christian Nor Science - 1965

Every week I dressed, abandoned my cartoons,
rode to Aberdeen in a grand American sedan.
We went to the basement for the children's service.
Nana's hands clutched, and her voice embarrassed me.
It rose, a silly bird from her lined throat.
All around us, the voices sang the same.

Adults were taller, and older, and permitted upstairs
while we stayed below where the cool plaster walls
were warmed with exotic painted animals.
The sand table held no sand, the index cards held
Bible verses. I knew the books, and loved my hymns,
studied the smooth nakedness of a Ken doll,
forbidden by  my mother, inspected in the nursery.

After, they took us for doughnuts or caramel rolls
at Elmer's Cafe. I remember the smell of coffee
on Papa's breath, absent pats, silver dollars,
the distinguished air he wore with his suit.
We returned home to our refreshed mother,
making dinner, smiling, wearing a cotton apron.
I assumed she smiled because she didn't have to go.

Sunday rings hollow, now, the clapper's gone silent. 
That black and white building that bore no graven images
still stands in Aberdeen. Does it fill with the brave
who speak of Mortal Mind and call Practitioners?
We went onward, Christian soldiers, restless unbelievers
in search of a sweetroll, waiting for the call to Sunday dinner.

  Karen G. Berry
  Copyright © 2006 Karen G. Berry
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