The wanting, 1985

1985 the wanting photo

Today is the Service in the Park,

the one day a year our church meets outside.

The whole congregation sits on the hillside

like people did when Jesus told his parables.

Mommy went to church and believed the Bible

but didn’t know Jesus as her friend

until she and Daddy got divorced.

Now she gives back to Jesus by playing the piano

and leading high school kids who sing at our church.

They come over to our basement to practice a few nights every week.

I listen to them from my bedroom

and spy on them from the cracked-open door.

I like the songs, especially “El Shaddai” and “Great is the Lord”

and sometimes I sing along

but not so they can hear me.

Sometimes I wish

I could just play in the living room and watch TV

without their music.

But I know they sing for Jesus

and Mommy has to play the piano for them

so I say nothing.

They practiced a lot for the Service in the Park.

Mommy made me and Sister wear our new dresses

we hate because they itch so bad.

Mommy called the itchy part smocking.

I will never wear dresses with smocking when I grow up.

Today it’s so hot the sweat runs down my back

and gets stuck inside the smocking like a beetle

but I can’t scratch it out because we’re in church

even though we’re in the park

and I still have to be quiet and good.

If I lived inside a trash can like Oscar the Grouch

I would go way down inside where it’s cool and quiet.

Now it’s time for them to sing

and I watch Mommy go up on stage.

She looks pretty in her flowy white sundress.

As the music starts I feel the wanting

that rises up when I can’t have her

even though I can see her.

The wanting moves around inside me all the time

but sometimes it rises up for a little while

then goes back under when I push it down.

It rises up when she teaches aerobics at church

and I watch her bouncing around on the gym floor

with so many other ladies.

It rises up again when she plays tennis with her friends

and we stay at the park until it’s way past bedtime

even though it’s summer and we can stay up late.

While she plays I go across the street to the honeysuckle vines

and drink drops of sugar water from every flower

to push the wanting down

while I wait and wait to go home

where it’s finally just us three.

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