Psalm 78:22

My mother’s mother chain-smokes
and talks to God
in her backyard.
The reception
isn’t as clear as her last house
but cancer, win or lose, 
is expensive
and sacrifices must be made.
A committed baptist,
she has two prayer lists:
One
for anyone and everyone
she knows
for once daily use
and One
she uses hourly for the
terminally ill,
the distitute,
& the damned.
I am on the second list.

When she asks,
and she always asks,
if I will be in heaven
I tell her
it is not up to me.
She cries
and prays for me harder.

I am 18 years old
when I help my father
bury his mother.
His brother and father
died years ago.
We are all that is left
of generations of struggling.
We are buzzed on 
parking lot whiskey
we were passing 
back and forth
conspicuously pretending 
to hide our sins
in a brown paper bag
when really
we were looking to
pick a fight
with God.

After speaking
of my father’s mother
and of her awards
and green pastures
and peace
and other things I’ve never known,
the preacher
walks up to me,
a quarter his age
dressed in black.
He takes his time
looking me
up and down and
in the baptist reception hall
with the sign that says
“No Rock n Roll Music”
he tells me
that I am hot.
To this day
I cannot remember 
anything
anyone said
about Nancy Marie
on the day she was laid to rest
but I remember
spending the wake
hiding
from her friend
from someone she trusted
hiding
from a man of God.

My mother’s mother 
won’t stop praying for me.
I can’t tell her
my friends are being
beaten
and locked up
and killed.
I can’t tell her
I can’t be saved
from a world
that wants to hurt me.
I can’t tell her
there’s no
salvation
to be found
at the bottom of
any
river
I could step in
without stones
in my pockets.

I can’t tell her
God stopped believing in me
first.

Like what you read? Give Milo Grey a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.