The man on death row in the federal penitentiary writes to me On lined loose-leaf paper that when he was a boy in the South He was so absorbed by tent revivals that he knew he would be A preacher, knew it in his deepest bones. I would stand on my Bed and preach to the babies, and stand on a barrel and preach To the chickens and the hogs, and preach the Word to the cow, Who would not come to Jesus nor to anyone else neither. Well, That is not how things turned out for me, which is a long story, But what I want to get down in this letter is the blessings I had When I was a boy. Now there is much to say that was not at all In the least blessed, it was a violent and perplex raising we had, But what I want to get down is that was a time of great wonder And satisfaction for me because I knew what I was going to be. I could spend a lot of time explaining how I came to not be that Which I knew I was going to be but I have wasted enough time In that fruitless pursuit. Thank you for reading this letter, which Is a kindness on your part. It allowed me to remember a blessed Time, there on the old barrel preaching the Word to the animals.
Brian Doyle is editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance, and, most recently, Chicago, a novel.