Proverbial Patriarchy of Parochial School

I am frozen in the back

pressing my fingertips hard

against the orange plastic of the chair

as I sit on my hands,

the buzzing white lights overhead

dress the room in discomfort:

bow your heads


and pray:

“Our father

who art in heaven

hallowed be thy name.”

Sweat drips down my back

to a skirt, high kneed socks

my shoes with a low

don’t-look-at-me heel.

My legs don’t kick with play

though my feet

can’t touch the ground.

Spine erect and

breathing shallow

(am I actually just holding it in?)

I dare not look away

at the cross draped

in the same red

as our flag’s proud display,

the black of the board scraped

with chalky white words:

“Thy kingdom come,

thy will be done.”

The windows are closed

and I dare not catch wind

of the quiet change

that whispers

from hot, humid air.

Don’t take off a layer

you’ll confuse the boys,

I heard the mothers say,

and again

and again

I dare not look away

but I linger in the promise

of that hot, humid

feminine air.












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