When the men got happy in church,
they shouted and jumped straight up.
But the women's trances
made them dance with moaning; so,
I dreaded Rev. Johnson's sermons
near their end, hated the trouble
he was causing inside
the souls of women sweating
and beginning to breathe fast.
One day, I worried, my mother
would let go and lose herself
to him, become as giddy
as when my father was coming home
on leave. Just as silly.
Yet, when it finally happened,
I felt only left behind.
Years later, another first time,
I heard my moan echo inside
a girl's ear and recognized
how woeful pleasure feels.
I then began to wonder
if there weren't some joy still
to give in to, make me shout
not as men do but as a woman.
It troubles me.
I do not have a woman's body
but fear that moaning will betray
this want in me, or another
to be like a woman. Mostly,
I fear that moaning will uncover
the love for my mother that is still
so deep that I want little more
than to be with her as closely as I can.
Poems by Forrest Hamer:
TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets