In Kingdom Hall

by Candace Williams

I spent my Sundays hating God and men.
The women dressed in cream or white to flaunt
their modesty. The floor was a monochrome rainbow
of heels—They must’ve ordered the patent
leather pumps in bulk from Sears. Women
could perform skits on stage and pass the mic
but could not take the podium. The men,
in whom the God of glory stashes all
the power that is not in heaven, all
the longing that is not of Satan’s sway,
and all the wisdom that is not above
their heads, were draped in gray and black.
The congregation prayed, opened ochre books, and flipped
to a melody approved by the Society.
Marches like “We Are Jehovah’s Army!”
and “Guard Your Heart” blared from a worn cassette.
The elders filled 90 minutes with lecture
while children raced to find every verse.
The flap of Bible pages pleased their parents—proof
they might return to paradise on Earth. The parents
threatened kids with the End of Days—the pale
horseman named Death and the Seven-headed Beast
bring woe to wicked souls who argue, run
indoors, and talk during service, instead
of proving their parents’ grasp of eternity.
I dressed in Sunday morning’s darkest hours
so God would keep my mom on his eternal scroll.
I thumbed the pages and memorized the word of God.
I traced the death and slaughter sketched
on colorful Watchtower pages, knowing I would
not survive the Last Judgement. I yearned for my
mom’s survival. I sang the songs. I clapped.