Getting happy

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:

Night traveling
Goldsboro narrative #37
Shaping the dark
Berkeley, late spring
13 suppositions about the ubiquitous
Goldsboro narrative #24: Second benediction
Getting happy
The calling

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets