God only knew why they’d sought out his church
for the detritus of their Saturdays.
As pastor, he was always first one there
on Sunday mornings. Lately he’d been parking
in the bleak darkness just before the dawn
to police the symbol of the risen Christ—
remove the Clemson cap, or produce bag
with TROJAN Sharpied on it, vertically,
before the congregation would arrive.
On other nights, they’d focus farther down—
suspending a brassiere hooked from behind
or wrapping where the Savior’s waist would be
with Luvs or Cottonelle.
But when they’d perched
a Budweiser on the end of either arm
he rummaged in the pockets of his coat
and fit his gloves over the twin glass necks
thumbs up—and left them for his unsuspecting
flock (and his tormentors), hoping that
like Son and Father, they could stand a joke.
Gilbert Allen’s most recent books are Believing in Two Bodies (poems) and The Beasts of Belladonna (linked stories). Some of his newest work is forthcoming in Epoch, Kestrel, The Southern Quarterly, and The Southern Review. Since 1977 he has lived on Paris Mountain in upstate South Carolina with his wife, the educator and environmental activist Barbara Allen.