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Sunday Hymns

"My mother scolded me once, when I didn’t stand up at Communion."

Published onJul 07, 2024
Sunday Hymns

Photo by Mart Productions:

With the scarlet walker a grandson calls “Abuela’s bike,” my mom rolls to a set of padded chairs behind the last pews. The woman next to us is hunched over, crooning to a cream-colored dog. Neon fleece proclaims it to be a service animal—the same way I might whip up some vestments on my Bernina, and call myself a priest. Jumping into her lap, the creature proceeds to lick both her hands, palms and backs, as if its tongue were seeking the twenty-seven bones inside. Horrified, I vow to avoid any dog germs during the sign of peace, unaware that part of Mass was a casualty of COVID. My mother scolded me once, when I didn’t stand up at Communion. –Pero no te sabes la Misa, en inglés o en español. Imagining the list of what I don’t know in either language unspooling like a CVS receipt, I had to smile. At my father’s funeral, I think we sang “Pescador de Hombres.” (Listen, I spent the whole time sobbing, so I may not remember correctly.) They’re belting out the Recessional now, with pious vibrato: Open my eyes, Lord / Help me to see. But I suspect this ill-mannered crowd has zero interest in seeing anything that’s not on Fox News. Not one of them stops to let us pass as we make our way down the aisle. Guiding Mom’s handlebars amid the throng, I really wish Dad could have seen that awful little hound. Suddenly, there’s a hint of Old Spice, as if he’s walking beside me. One syllable—“Hah!”—hovers in the air. It’s the G, I think, below middle C; a stately tone, even on a laugh. The perfect final note.

Madeleine French lives in Florida and Virginia with her husband. A Best of the Net nominee, her work appears in Identity Theory, ONE ART, Dust Poetry Magazine, West Trade Review, Door Is A Jar, Thimble Literary Magazine, The Madrigal Press, and elsewhere. She is working on a full-length poetry collection.

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