Nomenclature: Sundays

By MARGOT SCHLIPP

Sundays, my parents would pin

their names to dress clothes.

The labelmaker’s impressions formed

letters unevenly, and at the end

of service, the tags were stuck

back into the cork. To avoid the word

church, everyone agreed to call

it a fellowship. For us, Sundays

were crafts—bunnies, pumpkins,

cornucopias—construction paper

and glitter, Elmer’s glue sticking

everything to everything else. Blunt metal

scissors tore paper. Clothespins hung

each week’s art from a piece of twine.

The kids descended to the rooms below,

where on other days AA meetings

and singles’ teas were held.

Once we found a tiny liquor bottle

stashed behind the john, alchemy

of hope and failure that made

almost nothing the teacher said

real enough. There were no curtains,

so the legs of passers-by cut

into and out of the scene. We knew

when the singing began there were six

minutes left before parents’ legs

showed through the steps’ cement lattice.

We must have hung our creations

in the cinder-block halls, tape

anchoring corners and air  drying

to curls the ragged pasted flowers,

even while above us committees

were meeting to excise references

to Jesus from hymnal and verse.

We could have told them

what to call things, if they’d asked—

love and honor and faith

all led us to the same names.

As we stretched our lengthening bones

against twin sheets, books beckoned

to be read. All the trees waited to be

shimmied up under the rustling leaves.

 

 

Margot Schilpp was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1962. She is the author of three volumes of poetry: Civil Twilight , Laws of My Nature, and The World’s Last Night.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Juan Pablo Gonzalez

Nomenclature: Sundays

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