* Stand if you are able.


My grandmother would make them,

large-knit in green, red, and white:

thick cables of yarn as cylindrical

camouflage for rolls of toilet paper, or

insulation against pots of chicken and dumplings.


Her shawl reminded me of these,

though white and splotched with dollops of

yellow surrounded by petaled pink and blue.

She wore it each week,

rain or shine, Epiphany or Lent.


(Truth be told, the church can be cold.)


She arrived, shuffling; sat, shuddering,

and her son helped her, lowered her, down.

She stayed, bent, forward over her hands

as we stood shaking hands and sharing peace.


The asterisk asked her to

* Stand if you are able.

Not a command of passive-aggressive guilt, but

suggestion and instruction. A lesson

in humility for those who don’t know or have forgotten:

in worship, in respect, in joy, we stand.


And each week she stood,

rain or shine, Advent or Easter.

Fingers curled and gripping the pew;

not pushed but pulled, drawn, and called

to her feet with patience,

without hesitation.


Her son’s hands holding the hymnal.


(Origially published on Frivolous Quill.)


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