Esther – Part Two
Free Verse Story Poems
Esther pinched her shearling’s collar tight to her neck, stood dazed and stared at the grey pavement before her
as if it were possible to pull up and fold the cement like a blanket.
It was only the wild, cold, whipping wind that forced her shivering limbs onward toward any hope.
Seeing the gold lights hanging in front of the church she read
and marveled once again at the lettering: The Holy House of Prayer, Pastor and founder, Rev. L. Sangster.
Memories of her youth flooded and passed before her.
There in the red velvet pews, she had stood and walked down the carpeted aisles toward the then
middle aged, Pastor Sangster as a ten year old girl to receive the right hand of fellowship.
She saw herself being baptized in the upper room while asking if she should have worn a
bathing suit under the thin, white gown to mask her budding nipples.
She was there in the wet, white, clinging gown, having just been dunked and pressed to change
her clothes as the women of the church toweled dried her hair, admonishing her to dedicate
her life to serve God, not to be drawn away by the cares for the world, or the things of the
flesh or smooth talking boys and to always keep her legs closed which she understood as when
she wore a skirt or dress to cross her legs at the ankles.
She saw herself sitting at one of the long tables in the church’s dining room between two adults,
waiting to be served the hot, Sunday, after sermon meal, that never failed to fill her stomach
as well as her soul.
Images flashed within her as she witnessed herself at the corner store spending the nickel on
candy that was meant for the offering and tithes.
Boy, that candy was good!
It seemed like she could share the candy booty with the other kids who attended the Sunday
school, so she did.
She was liked, for once for whatever reasons.
How contented she had been to have an established home,
a secure place to belong to and to learn without fear.
She was not nothing, not full of shit, not an idiot like they said
but she now had a different identity, a beloved child of God.
It seemed to her standing outside the old church that had been her only real home during
her childhood that those days spent in the church were sunnier, newer, fresher, full with
promise and hope.
After the baptism, she was told to be a good girl and to hurry because she with the others
were now in the army of the saints.
With each memory, something hard broke in her chest and fell
as her hand automatically rose up towards the sign and the
If only, she could push back the darkness, make her days not so dark, so dreary.
Then maybe she could breathe again, without hurting.
She would know soon enough if her living or if her loving had been in vain and if
there was anything worth breathing for, worth living for.
Taking on another shallow breath, she took hold of the heavy door knob and pulled
Stepping inside, her shoes feeling the stone floor of the church, she began pulling
off her covering, her sorrows, her coat.
Alone in the foyer, she took time to steady her nerves and to observe the renovations
of the old building since she had been gone.
She went over to the side table and swept some literature into her handbag to read later.
Then a white gloved hand grabbed the sanctuary door and pulling it open, blinked in
surprise for a few seconds, throwing her gloved hand outward, she beckoning Esther .
Esther moved as one in a trance and reaching the old saint, she allowed herself to be
previous: Esther – Part One
more by DEBRA BISHOP
photograph by Benjamin Faust