Poetry | By Gale Acuff | Issue 34 (Sept, 2020)

Straight Dope

Miss Hooker is going to be my wife
one day, one day when I’m old enough to
qualify as a man, I’m just a kid
now, 10, she’s 25 but by the time
I’m ready she’ll be extra-ready if
she’ll stay single for me, she waits for me
until I’m up in years, too and though I
can never match her since fifteen years is
fifteen years, I can catch up by counting
not numbers but something else, I don’t know
what to call it but I mean the older
she gets the older I get, too, and vice
versa, until one day we’re both grownups,
adults anyhow, and I can ask her
Will you marry me, Miss Hooker?–I hope
I’ll know her first name by then but that’s not
absolutely necessary, not for
me, anyway, Baby will do fine, as
will Honey, Darling, Sweetheart, Sugarlips,
and like that. After Sunday School today

I practiced my proposing on my dog,
who couldn’t answer, naturally, so
I pretended that he was overcome,
which accounts for his slobbering on me
–maybe that’s how Miss Hooker’s tears will be
when I’m 21 to her 36
but I doubt she’ll kowtow or shake her rear
or lick my face or fall to let me
scratch her belly, but on the other hand
who knows what goes down on a honeymoon?
I ask around about that but my folks
just clear their throats and say, Well, you’ll find out
in all good time, just be patient, and friends
make fun of me because I don’t get how
babies are made even when they explain
–my friends, not babies–they must be putting
me on, and last week after Sunday School
when I hit up Miss Hooker for the straight
dope she suggested that I ask my folks
so I only hope that by the time we’re
spliced–I mean Miss Hooker and I, not my
folks and yours truly–I’ll know my duty.
But then again Miss Hooker’s a teacher
even if she’s really a bus driver,
I think that in a pinch she can show me
what my part is in our matrimony.
With any luck I’ll fall asleep before
the hugging and kissing begin to get
serious. Mother says that’s what Father
did on their honeymoon but he says nix,
she was the one who conked out, too much Schlitz.
If I have to choose, I believe Mother,
I’m not sure why, maybe because she’s
not one of us. But then neither am I.

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in eleven countries and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.

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