Mid-March and we stand
in a fidgety procession,
our whispers echo off
marble walls like moths
against glaring lightbulbs.
We slide onto the wood pews,
shouldering our classmates
An occasional giggle,
a foot-bang against the kneeler,
and Sister Dorothy furrows
her deep forehead.
Flustered, we thumb the hymnals,
doubting we can unpin
the words from our throats –
words that will declare
our small sins in the dark
air-choked box of the confessional.
Mary Kay Kelly is the first to exit
and all we see is her draping black hair,
pleated plaid skirt and blue knee highs.
How sinful can her seven-year-old life be?
Our hands sweat as we
recite our sins in our heads,
some kind of moral laundry list
Lied to my mother
Swore at the neighbor kid
One day, didn’t do my chores.
Spring is upon us
and we’re wishing for kickball,
jump rope, hopscotch and fresh air
to swipe our cheeks to red swaths
that stay through fifth period.
The statues of saints in the enclaves
peer down on us and we’re wondering
how they lived holier and holier lives.
They do not answer us.