PTL: Circa 1981

by Nancy Hightower

in the murky chalet
burnt orange carpet crawls under my feet
flushes out the flavor of sienna walls,
makes everything look like
hell had decorated it.
everyone crashes
into dim lighting,
early bedtimes.

somewhere in a corner
curled up, a little girl watches,
hands folded.     prays
for her eyes to be opened,
with fire and brimstone.
in stark revelation, hears
whispers grunting salvation,
muffled shouts of oh christ,
and the slow moan of redemption
finally crashing down.

in the south,
things happen.
my mother’s belly juts out malignantly,
jim says it’s God’s doing;
my father,     standing in awe,     speaks in tongues;
i see them now
through the light of dirty water,
as if the very color of that place
drove them all crazy.

Nancy Hightower has published in The New York Quarterly, Inklings Magazine, and The Presbyterian Record. She lived in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1976 to 1985 while her father worked for Jim Bakker at PTL. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Denver.