In town, they say my daddy been possessed by the spirit of King Saul—the simmering rage that makes him cuff me over Christian radio, curse me for his cirrhotic gut. He plays the game of uproar.Writes midnight checks to televangelists, smashes the homosexualtelevision, buys my mama a gold necklace & then rips it from her neck. The controlling spirit. The use you up & throw you away ghost.With a spear, he pins our household to the wall. My mama stopstelling what the neighbors done when he raises his fist, calls her thoseterrible names. She believes him & I should talk back but I never talkback. I am his fortune-teller, a cautious gnostic with a serpent’s tongue, to praise & to spit on. Smart daughter & shoulda been a son. Weren’t Samuel the teacher of Rasputin? I lie because my prayers are too treasonous to claim. Daddy you a just ruler, Daddy you so brave, Daddy, yes, we’d be dead without you, we’d be dead on the street like rats, yes, we is like rats exactly. I seen an army fall before, & in the end it was the rats who swallowed every last gilded thread on their bodies & chewed up the bodies, too. Come Judgment, the littlest is the largest. Knowing all the ways to poison a king, I hold an empty cup, soothsay & wait for a man to rise up in the shadow of this second giant & make me his thousandth concubine. What I was raised for, daughter of the bootstrap king with the taste of dust still in my mouth. Every gum-snapping girl is a prophet, the waitress after hours with hands on her hips, the wadded dollar bills a tarot. Come Judgment, I know how it will happen. When the townsfolk wanted a leader, Saul—domineering, cunning, powerful—seemed like an all-right choice. Powerful in a powerless town, almost a blessing, almost the word of the Lord. Yes, he is a good king, how the K.K.K. chopped my daddy’s wood for him, winter, 1968—damned if they’d see a white boy freeze.
November 25, 2016