by Gale Acuff

I’ll believe in God when I see Him is 
what I like to say before Sunday School 
and afterwards but during class I pay 
attention to what Miss Hooker tells us, 
she’s our teacher and a damned fine one and 
I’m ten years old and all I can say else 
is that she makes a fairy tale sound fair 
and though I participate in class and 
even pray when I’m alone, mostly when 
I’m scared or want something or don’t wish to 
get caught at making mischief I shouldn’t 
I can’t bring myself to believe it all 
though maybe I believe some of it, not 
in God nor Jesus nor the Holy Ghost 
but how Miss Hooker enjoys saving my 
soul, or trying to anyway, I can’t 
bear to tell her that I don’t have one, if 
I do (I would tell her) so does my dog 
and so do my guppies. Then there’s music 
and the old re-lacquered piano which 
Miss Hooker bangs away at and somehow 

out comes a hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” 
say, which I like a heap because one day 
when I’m grown I’m joining the Marines and 
invading somebody and grunting my 
way up to President of the U.S. 
and getting assassinated and then 
I’ll find out for sure if there’s a Heaven 
and Hell. Miss Hooker says we’ve got to have 
faith that Jesus shed His blood for our sins 
so that when our bodies die our souls rise 
to Heaven for their judgment and not to 
believe means Hell automatically. 
And she adds that we’ve got nothing to lose 
by believing–better safe than sorry 
–but I don’t agree. Still, I come for more 
–I hold the record for class attendance 
and would hate to disappoint God even 
if He doesn’t exist by ending it. 
You can’t have faith any stronger than that. 
I’d tell Miss Hooker so but I don’t think 
she’s understand. I mean, because she would.