I’m sick again today, and missing school,
but we live so close I walk to it. From
my bed I can hear the kids at recess.
One of those voices should be mine, or mine
would add to theirs. If I’m over the flu
or virus or bug tomorrow morning,
I’ll return and Teacher will take the roll
and I’ll walk up to her desk and hand her
my excuse, composed by my father: Do
forgive Gale for having missed his duties
yesterday. Teacher will say, Welcome back.
I’ll retake my seat and wonder if God
is in the breeze that wafts through the window
and agitates the flag. When recess comes
I’m too tired to go outside. I stay in
and put my head down on my desk and rest,
and when I raise it and open my eyes
my classmates are back, and staring at me.
Teacher stands over me. Are you alright,
she whispers. I’m Jesus Christ, I answer.
No one says anything. I feel their looks
of disbelief. O ye of little faith,
I say. Teacher says, Principal’s Office,
young man. I get up and we go. Halfway
there Teacher stops and looks at me. Are you
He, she whispers–I just want to be sure.
I smile, then stand tiptoe and place my hand
on her forehead. Your faith has made you well,
I announce. She starts to cry and touches
my shoulder and shakes and shakes. I wake
for real now, my mother staring at me,
Father still shaking me, but with both hands.
Wake up, Son, he says--you’ve been dreaming. No,
I say, rubbing my eyes. It is finished.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in many journals and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.