Skipping Rocks


On Easter, after all the dyed eggs had dried for your hunt
and the Easter Bunny had come with his loot to sweeten
your breakfast as the stone still blocked our Arimethean door,
you put on your Oxford cloth and blazer for the service
of the high-church Episcopalians my people called gutter
Catholics just like they called the Unitarians atheists
in search of the remote possibility that there is a god.

You took communion with the flippant contempt of a
boy throwing stubbed cigarette butts in the offering plate.

The church is convenient for neighborhood Christianity,
being just around the block so we don’t have far to walk
in dress shoes and we don’t stain our fancy jackets with
too much sweat toward piety. After church you said,
I like Christmas better; no one dies in that story, and
went back home, to this place where I knew that
happiness unhappened, knowing, like I know the Easter
ending, that I bought this house, out of pity, from a woman
who inherited four nieces to stack in these dark corners
after a no-good brother-in-law beat her sister to death.

We see alcoves here we don’t visit, phantoms that life
never did inhabit, trashy recesses that won’t stay clean.

For this, out of pity, I paid full price. Bored, oppressed
by the weight of air in this house, as sturdy and remorseless
as its age in unloving hands, we left for the park and
I taught you to skip rocks, thinking how our house
skips nothing, leaving ripples all the same. Your image
in the water wavered, I heard the glide and plunk of rocks,
a perceptual entropy, the price of living here, of all places,
ringing the registers of what will be memory, cashing us out
to our last blasphemous tithe, stone by stone.

About the Author

Pamela Sumners is a constitutional/civil rights lawyer from Alabama. In 2018 and 2019, her work has been published or recognized by 30 journals or publishing houses. She was selected for 2018's 64 Best Poets (Halcyone/Black Mountain) and is nominated for 2019's 50 Best Poets. She is a 2018 Pushcart nominee. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, their son, and three rescue hounds.


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