Short-sleeved, white shirts, black pants,
and ties. The boys walked up my drive waving
a timid hello. Clearly a tough afternoon.
It’s hot as hell outside, and the town people
behave as though the devil himself
travels in twos, riding bikes.
They could be my boys. Sent to war in a
foreign place. Learning to speak the
language by talking to the natives. Armed
with what they know-in-their-knower is right.
I speak kindly so they’ll stop shaking.
In the end I say what’s expected, and
something about theological differences
being like hairstyles. Reserving judgement
for stylists. Wondering the coiffures of heaven.
They inquire if any of my neighbors might be
receptive. I know this place but not a neighbor,
at least not well, and shake my head.
Before they leave, I say: Take heart. You
get a lot right. Caring about the salvation
of my neighbors more than I do.
A staggering pause. My own words strike
me through the heart. Quickly, I offer them
bottled water for the journey. Then retreat
back to conditioned air.
It’s hot as hell outside.