Bill and I Go to Christine McIntire's Church
David Kirby’s collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” Kirby’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His latest poetry collection is Get Up, Please.
High school seniors, we go to a different church
each Sunday, wanting there to be a God so we can
doubt Him. The Quakers are calm, the Methodists jovial.
At the AME church, the pastor recognizes the sisters
of the Omega Sapphire sorority in their big hats and then us,
“our very special guests,” everyone turning to look
at the white boys. One Saturday we go to the synagogue
and are fed bagels and lox afterward, though we don’t
know which are the bagels and which the lox.
Then there’s Christine McIntire’s church. Christine
is the most beautiful girl in our class. She’s more
excited about our project than we are, and when we ask her
what kind of church hers is, she says, “Just come.”
The people in Christine McIntire’s church begin
with a prayer, but in minutes they’re screaming
and throwing themselves around the room and tearing
their clothes. They’re stormy petrels, these people.
They’re going to Graceland. A man runs through hell
in a gasoline sport coat. A woman scrambles across
the trunk of the death car like Jackie Kennedy trying
to retrieve the back of her husband’s head.
The people in Christine McIntire’s church drive trucks
for a living and stamp out sheet metal and sweat
long days in those chemical plants by the river
that are killing them slowly. They’re homesick for a place
they’ve never been. They’re what Bill and I want to be,
passionate about what matters to them and, after that,
indifferent. They’re in love, these people, they’re all shook up.