The Night the Pastor’s Wife Loses Her Salvation
Jill Bergkamp (bio)

The girl climbs the eucalyptus tree to hear the rustle
of vampire bats the night her mother realizes
something is wrong. The thought occurs

like a slow spreading stain. The mother calls her parents
then drives past fields choked
with strawberries to get to their parsonage

where they pray The Four Spiritual Laws
as she kneels on their lime green carpet and cries.
The girl scrambles down the tree. She knows monsters

prowl the woods foresting their house at night
and only she can stop them: needles, steel, mirrors, hot water,
she sleep with her arms crossed. Down the hallway

her brother cries that butterflies assault him. Her father
hunkers in his study and writes sermons: We crucify
our flesh and walk in the spirit. Her mother repeats

after her parents: We receive Christ by faith, as an act
of our will. The girl memorizes: stones hurled
across rooftops, a sprinkle of mustard seeds.

Her brother cries: Butterflies, all over me. Her father
writes: Be sober and vigilant. Her mother says: I’m sorry.
Her parents say: Don’t you know nothing can help us escape God’s love?

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