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A holy nap
Pastor Moore’s voice used to possess me. Its rich righteousness reverberated through me.
Its tinny bravado rattled my little bones as I lay on my mother’s lap, trying to sleep during the
sermon. Sometimes his voice was so loud that I would stick my fingers into my ears, a futile
attempt to keep his pontification from disturbing my nap. When my mother looked down
and noticed her baby, whom she’d risen early for, whom she’d painstakingly dressed in her
Sunday best (a pink gingham dress with embroidered daisies, white tights, and shiny black mary
janes), whom she’d driven two towns over and brought into the House of The Lord, covering her
ears during the sermon, thus refusing the Word of God, she yanked my fingers away from my
ears. Underneath the pastor’s booming voice, she whispered (with all of the firmness that God
demands but a hint of the softness warranted by my youth): Stop. You can’t cover your ears. It
seemed like my mother was okay with my naps during the sermon. Even if they were restless
and bred by boredom. Even if Pastor Moore’s words reverberated through my body
but did not resonate within my soul. As long as the pastor's pious words wafted into my dreams
and cemented themselves into my subconscious, it was okay to sleep. As long as my ears were
open, my nap was holy.
The Pear Tree
All by its lonesome in the little backyard, the pear tree stood dutifully next to a dilapidated shed throughout the year. The neglected grass reached up for the tree in its attempts to turn the backyard into a wildflower meadow, its weeds adding specks of color to the dry green landscape. Every spring, when the pear tree was supposed to be in bloom, the greedy shed stole half of its prescription for sunlight. Still, the tree bloomed where it could, withstanding bitter mornings and the overcast sky’s purgative downpours. Planted with intention in the loamy soil by weathered, maternal hands, the pear tree was expected to outlive each generation of children that attempted to hang from its lower limbs and play hide and seek behind its plump trunk. As the years slipped by, the tree oversaw the happenings in the backyard, growing stronger than the shed, which collapsed in an autumn storm. Ruler of the tranquil backyard, the pear tree finally basked in all of the sun she deserved, producing portly pears in the thick summer air of each harvest season. In those golden years, the same group of women would pour out of the back door and twist the pears just so, eager to taste the rousing sweetness of pear juice on their tongues. These women tended only to the tree, continuing to ignore the weeds but eventually clearing away the rotting bones of the old shed that hid in the tall grass. This steadfast pack of women, the pear tree's loyal subjects, began to dwindle in size as the years went on. One particularly humid summer, the back door remained shut, spiderwebs woven within the stairway that led to the deck. Vermin seized the tree’s fallen pears from the tall grass, which threatened to overtake the yard. The branches, once poised at a regal height, began to sag. The pear tree’s reign was over.
sinewy pear tree
I can only hope to be
as fruitful as you
Hurston, Zora Neale. “Sweat.” The Complete Stories of Zora Neale Hurston. First ed., HarperCollins, 1995, pp. 73-85, Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/completestories0000hurs_c6p2/page/72/mode/2up.