Skip to main content.

God is Watching by Steve Brownlee
published in Volume 4, Issue 2 on November 10th, 1997

This Sunday, like every Sunday
I practiced sitting very straight and alert,
Pressing each tiny vertebrae into the hardwood pew
Sliding a king-sized wad of childhood love
Back against the last molar, surreptitiously
Drinking in sweet-salivated bubble syrup,
Trying to give a shit about all this hallelujah stuff, while
Admiring my own young finery and wondering
If God really meant for little girls to spend such miserable Sundays.
Somebody "gets the spirit" and convulses, jumps wildly
Eyes rolled back in head, speaking in half-assed bogus tongues.
I fight back the laughter by shifting joy around
In my mouth again, to suck some more love juice

And of course, Madam First Lady saw me--she sees everything--
. . .my jaw a little too full to lay flat, bulging like early mumps.
Chin lifted, eyes cast down-nose at me. . .she gestured me to stop.
God is watching, and if I wanted to go to heaven,
I must stop doing what I needed to be doing, just so I
Could forget how desperately I wanted to do something else.
With sheepish, true contrition, I sadly parted from my wad of happy diversion,
Wrapped it lovingly, snapped it away in my purse. With hot, embarrassed ears
I sought new ways to stay awake, without laughing. I started counting hats by color,
Then choir members, and ushers in white nurses uniforms. . .
Sister Evangelist sings her solo. . .her giant breasts wearing that
White choir robe like two king-sized pillows might wear a bed sheet
I stared down at my pre-adolescent chest, wondering what it was like to be that big.
(As it turns out, I'd never know. . .)

And I know that God was watching that Sunday. . .
All sins being equal in His sight, my bubble gum chewing
During service was just as nasty as that deacon fucking his own daughter. . .
(They say he got her pregnant, and she had an abortion)
. . .and I guess gum chewing is just as bad as
Madam Assistant Pastor condemning homosexuality
From behind the closet door, her lover, Madam Trustee Board Chair, Runs about in pricey pedigree garb most ghetto deli owners only dream of

And when Deacon Elder taught Sunday School one morning, and
Saw fit to tell me I might grow up to be a whore--because I liked looking pretty,
He didn't mean me a bit of harm. . .just tried to steer me in the right direction, after all
The Almighty Omnipresent Great I Am was and is watching, sees everything. . .

I can't even imagine what He must be thinking.

I could say that it was just easier for me to repent.
But that's not true. In my fourth decade now, I still
Chew bubbles by the pack whenever I'm so inclined--even during service.
(It's rare that I go anymore, anyway.)
If He can forgive me. . .Maybe I can forgive everybody else. . .but then again,
Maybe not. You see, I was watching, too--in fact, I'm watching still--
And I am not God. . .

go to this issue