[Originally published in BYU Studies 2006 / 3rd Place, BYU Studies Poetry Contest, 2006]
It was picture day. Me: a first grader. I was all ready.
Hair combed. Shirt tucked in tight. Tie clipped on.
Mom’s orders were clear:
no getting dirty or messing up my hair,
no riding my bike,
no playing in the sandpile,
no playing outside at all.
Those were all the things, especially being forbidden,
I needed to do that day.
I had already learned about the spirit of the law;
how it lets us forget the inconvenient parts
and mostly obey.
So I went to the playhouse, a shed in the back yard,
furnished with a child-sized pantry, table, chair.
It began to rain consequences:
the things you don’t plan for, but choose.
Afraid, hair and clothes already soaked in my mind,
I said a prayer.
Not a rain prayer I had heard before, not the asking or
thanking of desert people for "moisture."
It was the prayer now most familiar to me:
Let me not bear the bad thing I deserve.
The rain stopped. It stopped abruptly.
The thought ‘coincidence’ might have occurred to an adult,
That adult might have offered tepid thanks:
"If You did that for me, I am grateful,"
as a scientific explanation fretted in the mind’s back room.
Not me. I knew I had seen the finger of the Lord.
Despite all those farmers’ pleas—for me—He stopped that deluge.
I walked across the back yard and inside.
My eyes: small stones burned by that revelation.