Red letter days – a poem by Kate Garrett

Red letter days

Before I could hold my head upright, I’d been
going to church every week – nestled in a corner
of the Sunday school room, snug in a baby seat,
a beatific smile radiating peace, at Christmastime
reminding the older children of our infant Lord.

Later I grew curious, asked questions of God
he seemed unable to answer. I wanted to know
why the teacher at the new church said I’d
go to hell if I didn’t say the words just right
to ensure I’d be saved. My grandmother tutted

and said boy, you only need the red letters. I would
read them, embroidered fine among the black
and white, poetry in scarlet ink – old words in
an old order. Father forgive them; for they know not
what they do. The words as Jesus spoke them, a

gift to us: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
And over time I discovered new expressions of love,
that later bought me disapproval, even as I breathed
his fine merlot words and felt a honey sting – devotion
not guilt, staying drunk on joy for as long as I could.


Quotes in italics from the King James Version – Luke 23:34; John 13:34


Kate Garrett is a writer, witch, mama, and drummer who sometimes haunts 450 year old houses (as a heritage volunteer). Her next book, A View from the Phantasmagoria, is due out in October 2020 from Rhythm & Bones Press. She lives halfway up a hillside in Sheffield, England.

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