I preached my initial sermon
to a catholic throng of listeners
gathered on my childhood bed
in that little yellow room
in the house at 243 Winston Lane.
I was six years old.
Mrs. Beasley, wire-rimmed glasses askance.
She never stopped smiling.
Barbie and Ken side by side.
(They arrived in their pink convertible, top down.)
G.I. Jerry (I named him after my dad) in full fatigues.
He came packing
but left his semi-automatic at the foot of the bed.
Brownie Scout doll, missing her beanie and one sock,
winked a single eye at Little Red Riding Hood.
“I know my way around the forest.”
Red said nothing,
stared straight ahead. Indomitable. Wooden.
Madame Alexander, her expression plastic,
kept her eyes fixed on the conventicle of purple-and-yellow haired trolls.
Howdy Doody looked eager, but I was not fooled.
His commitment has never been more
than mere lip service.
A bride showed up,
costumed in wedding day white.
She was alone
and kept her story to herself.
The Liddle Kiddles created the biggest stir
spilling out of their house and onto the bed
in a disorderly pile of teeny tiny arms and legs
and teeny tiny accessories galore.
My congregation was gathered.
Perhaps all were saved that day
or maybe none at all.
We all needed saving:
wars and rumors of wars
brokenness of every kind imaginable.
But then, as now when a word is proclaimed
to some assemblages,
no sign of response could be seen or heard
until the preacher without intending it
pulled Mrs. Beasley’s string
and she said what was on her mind:
“Speak a little louder, dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.”
Jill Crainshaw’s poetry celebrates life’s seasons and seasonings—the common, organic stuff—of everyday life. She is a professor of worship at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is the author of four books on worship and theology and a regular writer of litanies, prayers, and spoken word pieces. Her work has been published in an anthology by Wicwas Press, by Five Poetry Magazine, and in W(r)inkle Review. drdeacondog.wordpress.com