February 2009

Trish Harris


This marks an author's first online publication Trish Harris now teaches and writes in Michigan after sojourns in the Deep South, upstate New York, Colorado, and Baltimore. Her poems have appeared in The Windsor Review, Way Station, and Poetry Motel, and her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in McSweeney's online and Brevity.

First Baptist    

If you take even a bobby pin
from your grandmother's dresser,
that's still stealing,
said Mrs. Helen,
my Sunday School teacher,
mother of Andy and Ned,
the boys with the best Colombian Gold.
And any moment you spend
not focused on God's grace
is a moment stolen from God,
said Mrs. Helen, her sweet face dewy
in the unairconditioned meeting room,
our urges cowering against her capped smile.

After Sunday School came Big Church,
and we knew our cues. The Doxology.
The Greeting.  Announcements. The Gospel.
The music minister's wife struggling with the organ
as he warbled on about hope and grace
and abundant life. And we had it.

We rose at the start
of the Offertory Prayer
and slowly, separately,
one each stairway, walked
down two flights to the basement.
Shushing through the empty fellowship
hall, we opened the doors
to the sunken courtyard's light.

My mother's house was two blocks away.
We crept through the back yard,
unlocked and re-locked the back door.
It was a small town.
You don't use the front door
when you don't want Mama to know.

And we stole a box of bobby pins
from God's dresser,
Michael's lips on my lips
a ring from God's bed table,
his hands, my hands,
silk scarves from God's perfumed drawer,
our urgent coupling
the first crocus from God's snowy garden.

And we dressed, brushed our hair,
walked back,
in our separate seats for the Invitation,
descending after the Dismissal
to the chaste foyer
and a handshake with Brother Bill.



Trish Harris: Poetry
Copyright ©2009 The Cortland Review Issue 42The Cortland Review