A Selection from Texas Wildflowers


            Mark 1:17

Reverend Coy Stribling told his mama
he was just real discouraged
couldn’t get the attendance
or the collection plate
at the Church of God of Prophecy of
Holy and Divine Revelation up one bit
it was flatlined almost a year
he didn’t know what to do

she said If you’re gone be
one of Jesuses’ fishers for men
you got to find you some good bait
and that’s what they are to it
put your whole mind on that

his wife said Poor Coy he thought hard
with sweatstains down to his shirt cuffs
turning brown almost for a week
she had to put bluing in the warsher
to lighten it up
read the scriptures
till his lips was so sore
he couldn’t barely even talk
then like a thunder of lightning
run over to the telephone book
looked up a number to call
that would be the answer
for all his problems

got Ella Mae Blodgett on the line
by that afternoon made her the offer
three dollars a week to come to Sunday School
then church service at eleven
wearing than snow cone pointed brassiere
under her pullover black sweater
the tight one with the gold leaf
draping right acrost
where her heart would be
if it was on the outside
Ella Mae said that was more
than she made babysitting of a night
she’d give it a try

had her sit up front
second row back and one
of the Sisters who cleaned at Judy’s
got her a Gideon bible out of a motel room
to hold in her lap
a red one

by third week Sunday School
almost doubled and most
stayed for church
crowded up to the front
so popular Coy’s wife said
if he’d get a chiropractor license
to unstraighten crick necks
on Sunday afternoon
he’d be a rich man by Christmas
but it was a personal tragedy instead
collection plate didn’t go up
most visitors were high school students
only there to check it out
without tithing admission

then Ella Mae told him
she’d need a raise to keep it up
didn’t mind Sunday School
but she’d need another dollar
to stay through the sermon
Coy said I can appreciate that but
she said No you caint
you don’t have to listen
that’s worth proper wages
which he flat didn’t have

so the fishing expedition
came up with and empty stringer
except Ella Mae got asked out
for four different dates
by three Christian boys
one of which she ended up
wearing his FFA pin prominent
on the gold leaf of her black sweater
right where it draped over her heart
Coy wished her good luck
promised he would make up say
a apostolic prayer just for her
and if it worked out he would preach
the nuptial ceremony for free

Ella Mae told him He couldn’t never know
just how much she appreciated his offer
and that she’d give half of it back
if he’d promise to cut his part
of the wedding sermon by the same amount
and Reverend Coy told Ella Mae
she had her a deal

            -- David Lee