In Spite of the Gremlin: A Poem for the Fourth Week in Lent

Fear with a hope showing through
Close up of a large square banner with the word FEAR is at the center. The words are all different fears, painted in dark colors. Four cut outs show a few letters in brighter colors underneath. Image courtesy of Rachael Keefe.

In Spite of the Gremlin was written by Ann King for Living Table's fourth Sunday in Lent 2024.


In Spite of the Gremlin

by Ann King

When I found myself alone in a double bed,
the little gremlin on my shoulder
became bolder, spoke more sternly,
whispering messages I learned in child and teenage days,
insisting there were proper ways
in which I should behave.
The foremost rule was not to let the neighbors
know that anything was different, wrong.
“When the neighbors see you mow the grass,
they’ll see he’s gone. They’ll know.”
(All my childhood, the mythical “neighbors” must never know.)
The gremlin whispered more:
“How can you be a family
when you are three instead of four?”
Will your kids be OK with only you?
Do you know what a single parent should do?
You thought you’d be a wife
all your life. What are you now?
And how do you fit in?
Your friends are married, and you’re alone.”
The gremlin liked the word “alone.”
It liked to repeat
all the “truths” of my growing-up years
and stoke my fears of the life I now owned
Weeks passed, and I kept the neighbors
as ignorant as possible,
but was always in doubt of what they’d found out,
and what they thought.
And it they cared if I was paired
or not.
I prayed to God for guidance—sometimes.
Prayer wasn’t my habit then.
Mostly I asked the universe
to lead me to a better place.
(Maybe they’re the same,
just by a different name.)
Then, little by little, over the days
I found ways to talk back to the gremlin
and tell some new truths I’d discovered.
Most importantly, a family
is whatever you make it to be.
My girls and I were never wrong
to call ourselves one;
we were just as fine as any other.
And I could be a single mother.
(I’d had some practice all along.)
I sought out single people
who’d been through this transition too,
and we were strong and competent and cool.
So I stopped feeling like a fool
and told that gremlin it better quit.
Or, better yet,
give me the messages I wanted to get:
tell me I’d get through it,
that I was smart and I could do it.
I took the reins of this new life
and made decisions that helped me grow.
After a while, I became aware
that the pesky gremlin was no longer there.
My life was improving,
and I was glad to know
that, with help from friends and God—and maybe the universe,
I was the one who’d made it so.

About The Office

Posts from the office are composed by church staff and leadership at Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, on behalf of the church membership.

Share this Holidays

post from The Office

2 thoughts on “In Spite of the Gremlin: A Poem for the Fourth Week in Lent”

  1. Ann, you brought hope my way and so much more. Can’t find the words right now to really let you know how you inspire me


Leave a Comment