Elizabeth Oxley

Christian Radio

The kids in the house down the block
were allowed to play only religious music, 
which meant that whenever their parents left, 
they switched the radio to classic rock. 

I was there when they sifted through static
for a guiding voice. Three blocks away, 
the creek unwound its brown ribbon. Buggies 
and cars parked at the general store, 

drivers hungry for ham and Velveeta cheese. 
Back then, our hair was frosted with Aqua Net. 
We knew the little ditty about Jack and Diane 
and ate ice cream at the Tastee-Freez. 

Boys wore bandanas, girls rolled their pants. 
Over the radio, Michael Jackson swore 
the kid wasn’t his son while every Sunday 
the preacher tried to sell us someone else’s. 

When parents returned, the kids switched off 
the radio and asked me to stay for supper. 
That was the way of things—neighbors 
calling each other, offering what was needed. 

Spats and squabbles never stopped us 
from rising up to swing the screen door 
open— open— open. We heard cricket song. 
Back then, we heard the call to alms.