Perfect Vision – a poem by Gale Acuff

Perfect Vision

In Sunday School today I saw Jesus
open His eyes–well, one of them–as He
hung there on the Crucifix. Miss Hooker
was talking about something, I forget
just what, when my eyes strayed like little sheep
up the hillside of the wall where Jesus
is nailed and as I stared and stared–and I
confess I was sleepy, I don’t get much
of that on Saturday night and too much
of my comic books but–I’ll swear that I
saw Jesus peeking over Miss Hooker’s
shoulder on a stack of Bibles. I mean
I’ll swear it on a stack of Bibles. And
I damn near pointed but it came to me

that if I squealed on the Savior I’d be
just like Judas, or not much better, and
would’ve sold Jesus out a second time
and I’ve got problems enough as it is,
being short for my age and then I failed
second grade not because I’m stupid but
because I didn’t care. Oh, alright, I’m
stupid then, stupid in a different way.
Or maybe not, I’m not smart enough to
judge though that never stopped me before and
judging is a sin but somebody has to
judge me and it might as well be me if
not God, or I’ll let Him do the big part

when I’m dead. And then I thought I’d raise my
hand and tell Miss Hooker what I saw but
I don’t think she would’ve believed me, I
can hardly believe it myself, and light
plays tricks with your eyes sometimes and of course
my classmates would’ve laughed at me so what
could I do? I saw Jesus’ eyeball
moving, too, wandering a little like
Miss Hooker’s lazy eye until you think
she’s looking right at you but somewhere else
as well, out the window maybe. Jesus
could control His, though, so He brought it back
until it was looking steadily at

me. It rested on me, I guess it was.
I propped it up, you might say, by being
in its path, almost like it created
me. Nobody can stare down Jesus so
I blinked and blinked–it’s not a shame for God
to get the best of you, it’s evil that
we have to face down–and then I opened
my two eyes again to Jesus’ one
and saw that His was shut, or shut again,
I guess I’ll never know. Then Miss Hooker
asked me what was wrong so I told her that
I had something in my eye–in both eyes
–which was both a lie and good enough for

truth. I blinked and blinked again. Then I said
I’m better now, and smiled, but sometimes smiles
mask fear and not so well. Just barely. But
after class when all the other kids had
left I crept up to Miss Hooker’s desk and
cleared my throat to get her attention and
she looked up and smiled. I was close enough
that her lazy eye could par her good one
like a matched pair of buggy mules so that
it didn’t stray and would plow right through me.
Yes, what is it, Gale, she asked, putting down
her hymnal. You look like you’ve seen a ghost,
which was funny because that’s what one of
the characters in my comic books said

last night, though not to me, of course. Yes ma’am,
I said. I got something to tell you and
I hope you don’t think I’m going bats but
–then I looked over her shoulder at Him,
the Son of God, but on the wall He’s wood
just like His Crucifix, if you come near
you’ll see that they’re one piece instead of two, which
is pretty fair carpentry, I must say,
I know because my father sells lumber.
I mean he works down at the lumberyard.
I mean he used to before he was fired.
Yes, Gale, Miss Hooker said. Is something wrong?
Oh, no ma’am, I said–it’s just that I want

to ask a question and my question is
Do you think Jesus would’ve worn glasses
or contact lenses, I mean if His sight
wasn’t already perfect? Miss Hooker
smiled again and said, I don’t know, but why
don’t you pray about it before you fall
asleep tonight? Yes ma’am, I said. I will.
Then I left but stopped at the door and turned
around and saw Miss Hooker gazing up
at Jesus. Then she took off her glasses.
Then I left before I could see too much.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Weber, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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