The Great Possum
by Hayden Church, October 10th 2022

Granddaddy spoke in tongues, a language of pentecost. Angel-speak tore through him in convulsions. Often they would begin at dinner – he would shake with motions of fury – but we knew his gift wasn’t for us to understand, that his body – nor ours – was no longer anyone’s in particular, except as a spectacle to behold.

 

The table would shake, pounding both fists, Granddaddy speaking a language no one could understand.

 

“Grab the tablecloth,” Grandma would instruct. I would pinch the tablecloth and pull it from his hands, fingernails digging into his palm bloody. His spit accumulated like salt and dried in the corner of his mouth. When he would begin convulsing we would take the fork from his hand so he wouldn’t stab it into his eyeballs, as a man a town over had done.

 

He would float, was the weird thing. His body was a magnet oriented toward God, pushing up, humming. His body heard a frequency; I couldn’t hear anything. The hounds yelp, running to the screen door. We would nail the chair down to the floor crying. We would tie Granddaddy down to the chair crying. Preacher comes over, to watch: his eyes glass, in incomprehension. “I cannot make this into something it is not. His gift is beyond me. I wish him the best,” preacher said.

 

There was the idea to charge for Granddaddy’s convulsions, as a spectacle to behold. But enough money is made off blood I thought. I would ask Granddaddy why he spoke in tongues. What did he have to gain from it, his strange connection. What did God say to him?

 

“It was not God, but the Great Possum.”

 

He wouldn’t answer anymore, making a remark about the sun setting over the oak trees – the pecans would begin falling soon, and would roll around then stop, never to move again.

 

I only tell Granddaddy I hope it isn’t a gift from the devil.

 

And he’d never answer