Revival Widow

Revival Widow

Revival Widow 1920 1280 Renee Emerson

“After the joy and satisfaction of knowing that I am his by rights—and his forever—I will slip into the background. In short be a lost life. Lost in Bill’s. “ Ruth Bell Graham 

When I was a child I heard the screaming outside
the gates my medical missionary parents sealed
like a wound—and that was also joy. I wanted
to stay there all my life. Of course, 
I met Bill 
in college and he circled
my finger with a ring of no uncertain
terms, unforgiving size. 

Once when a fever came he sent me
to the hospital, left to preach a revival
combing sinners loose from the dusty pews.
The nurse opened my candies for me,
I ate each chocolate and caramel
and then had to vomit. 

Like a small death
the closing door
and you through it

my children only saw the open
Bible and lit bedroom lamp,
my smiling face.
I’d hoped to go to Tibet. 
I wanted to choose what I’d give up for the 
Lord; I thought it’d be this. 


Renee Emerson

Renee Emerson is the author of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing 2014) and Threshing Floor (Jacar Press 2016). She earned her MFA in poetry from Boston University, where she was also awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize in 2009. In 2016, she was awarded an Individual Artist Grant by the Arkansas Arts Council. She is also the author of three chapbooks of poetry: Where Nothing Can Grow (Batcat Press, 2012), The Whitest Sheets (Maverick Duck Press, 2011), and Something Like Flight (Sargent Press, 2010). Her poetry has been published in 32 Poems, Christianity and Literature, Indiana Review, Literary Mama, Southern Humanities Review, storySouth, and elsewhere; her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize on three occasions. Renee teaches online classes for Shorter University and The Poetry Barn, and she lives in Arkansas with her husband and four daughters.

All posts by Renee Emerson