Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Poem: An earlier version appeared in Footwork in1987


Bless me Father for I have sinned

Sister Catherine tells us stories
about martyrs every Wednesday,
how little children in China
are being tortured for loving Jesus.
The Communists are giving them all
free passes to Heaven on the ends of bayonets.

This made me think about how little
I suffer, so when I go to light a candle,
I say a prayer and then I dip my
fingers into the holy wax,
and offer up the burning as a sacrifice.
It’s like I’m sending tiny pulses,
over a telegraph wire directly to God’s door.

It really hurts, but I purse my lips
and blow as hard as I can
until the wax clings to my fingers
like a pure white second skin.
It tastes like honey crayons, or
those fake lips you
buy at the candy store,
when I peel it off, and chew it.
Something I’d never do with Communion.

I thought maybe suffering
ahead of time might help me later on
when I get to committing mortal sins,
though I will always try to do everything right,
like a savings bond you can cash
in when times are tight.

On Good Friday
I sat in silence for three hours,
in front of the glass display case
where  the ladies laid His body out,
pretending I was Veronica,
the closest thing Jesus had
to a girlfriend. After all, He left her
a pin-up picture of His face.

I knew that Jesus was naked
except for the white cloth
that covered His holy parts.
Those pews are so hard,
and I tried my best not to
think about what was under there.

One day I was saying penance,
and Marty who owns the store
went into the confessional,
and talked so loud
I heard every one of his sins.

Every one.

I’m not crazy about Marty’s
wife. She hollers at me
for the way I read the comics
without buying them.
But I have to do that most of the time
so I don’t see the National Enquirer:
Headlines like Chinese Lady Ate
Her Baby really make me sick.

Marty’s sins made me feel sick too.

I don’t think he should have
done what he did to his wife.
I thought he was nice cause he lets us
call him Marty, but I was wrong,
and if I tell, I know that
I’m a sinner too. That’s what
Sister Mary said after my brother
laughed when Mrs. DeCarlo
let a loud one go on the way
up to the altar rail.

I am mad and I said bad words about Sister Joanne. 
I am sick of her Littlest Angels Club.
She says it's for girls with vocations
but when I told her I have a vocation,
she laughed and said I’d never 
get accepted to be a sister the way I dress.
Where is the belt to my uniform? And why 
doesn’t your mother braid your hair?

The girls all get to have 
cupcakes that look like angels.
I think maybe I'd be a good missionary,
since neatness might not count so much for that.
Or maybe I’ll grow up and get to clean the church;
become one of those ladies who dress 
the Infant of Prague. He's so cute -- 
Tiny Tears with kissable cheeks.
I wonder if He's sad that no one ever holds Him.
Maybe someday I'll be the one to hold Him.

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