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By Marsha the escapee ~

(In poetry form):

We arrive too late for Sunday School
so my parents hurry me into the sanctuary
of Trinity Methodist Church.
We settle in near the back, radiating apology,
and my mother whispers down to me
Now you be quiet and listen.

Oh!, I think, I can do better than listen!
I grab for the pencil in the holder in front of me.
I’ll record the whole service on the offeratory envelope.
Embellish where needed, put in illustrations during The Moment Of Silence.
But my mother says,
Quit fidgeting and put that pencil down.

Needing new occupation, I appoint myself judge
of the weekly Methodist fashion show.
Four rows ahead, a deep pink flowered scarf
doesn’t belong with a tan cotton blouse.
I scan the room for possibilities.

Finally, I find her, three rows over and slightly behind us.
The woman in the bright fuschia sweater should be wearing that scarf.
I look back and forth between the two women
to calibrate the color match.
And my mother says,
Quit looking behind you and face the front.

I take a deep breath, and position my face
directly opposite the minister’s.
I’m years away from geometry class.
At this moment, the farthest distance between two points
is a straight line. But with my face secure in
irreproachable alignment,
my eyes are free to wander.

I take in massive, dramatic stained glass,
a gold pipe organ that spans the front of the church,
scrolled ironwork fixtures, Renaissance marble, every
wooden piece carved with religious significance.
And I think, this is a gymnast’s paradise.

I take a tentative step out onto the top of the pew in front of me,
balance for a moment, then make a skateboarder’s slide to the end of the row.
Twenty handsprings bring me to the front of the church,
where I somersault onto the pulpit, twirl and bow,
then begin to climb.

I’m so agile, I think, so quick and so clever.
No one could catch a climber like me.
To prove the point, I conjure pursuers.
Black-masked bad guys from a TV show the night before.
They enter at the back of the sanctuary, see me, and start forward.

I bound up the tiers of benches where the choir sits,
scale the tallest of the organ pipes,
swing hand over hand across hanging light fixtures,
do a trapeze-artist landing on the balcony railing.
Then look back to assess the situation.

My pursuers are far below me now.
They are slow and clumsy; still, I sense real determination there.
Their labored ascent is vaguely paired with words,
something about loaves or fishes
or loving thy neighbor.

But, by now I’m far out of reach.
Sitting, smug as an angel, on the sanctuary chandelier.
My first brilliant escape.


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