I have whale-watched in the rain, or whale- sought in the rain, while our boat hit waves as tall as houses and their spray left me storm-drenched and salt-soaked and blinking against the sting. I’ve watched a Chinese woman sit beside me at the prow, clenching the railing with one hand and a plastic baggie of her own vomit with the other, undeterred, scanning the horizon for unseen blowholes … I’ve eaten mangoes sweet as candy, licked the orange stain around my mouth after sucking their pits for the last flesh.
There is no electricity on Sunday. And no preacher. But the black man from the dairy farm comes with his only living calf tied on a rope so nobody will steal it and a few school teachers and the fat lady who ran the dog grooming place that’s gone now, and some kids with pants sagging around their hips and the guy everybody thinks is a child molester is there in a plaid shirt, and the couple who kept half the money from their charity fund raiser, and one mechanic, and a blind lady who went to this church three times a week, every one of them is gathered on the blacktop where one church still stands, leaning toward an elm tree like an old man on a cane, and everyone keeps on praying at it. Forgive us, forgive us, forgive us.