There He Was, bearded and set in chopped bark, like it was hewn there by skilled hands. I said to Marie, the neighbor’s cousin, that it was a holy man I would someday study as a minister, showing his face not in book pages but in real, live wood. A spirit-touched place, a single divine fingerprint. She laughed at it, and said she saw nothing. I wanted to push her, but the face was watching me.
She pulled me across the grass and told me to look at clouds and feel the dirt on my toenails, to know that nature was our mother and father. Marie always knew when I was angry, when I would hide, kicked out for a tantrum behind the barn. There I sat, chipping away at paint. That would show them, I prayed, banging my head against the wall. Every time, Marie would come and laugh at my tears, and drag me away to some distraction.
At the well Marie flipped a coin, a nickel, over her head and into the darkness, and made a wish out loud so I could hear it. I didn’t know why she wanted to be tall someday; tall people had to duck to hold their children, to get under doors. She sat on the edge, like she wasn’t supposed to and said if I was so angry with her I could just push her then, into the well. I didn’t, but I confess I considered it. I just looked down the well at the eye of God, a still water, a deep notion that, even as a child, I feared to see nothing but light.