My stint as a Catholic school girl

For ten months I wore a green plaid kilt, a white

Collared shirt, brown lace-up shoes, and

Checkered knee-highs or socks that must

Meet strict qualifications---in other words be

Victorian enough to cover those skimpy ankles.


My first day, I walked into biology with everyone regarding me

As if I were some exotic specimen for dissection.

So you're from public school, they tittered suggestively

Like I was risqué exposure to the forbidden--a pornographic magazine--

And they were naughty enough to sneak a peek.


In Church History

Our own S.S. officer, called Ms. Sweet of all monikers,

Barked you should be grateful. I smirked as I read

Aged graffiti whittled into a desk, which proclaimed

To the back row: I AM A FLAMING LESBIAN.

So there's truth in rumors after all.

My neighbor gazed at me wide-eyed, disapproving

And impressed, "you're a rabble-rouser" she breathed,

As if not quite believing rules could be challenged.

I rolled my eyes. To be that

More than one person would need to hear me.


I fell into a pit of lions with

High standards and low expectations.

Instead of mauling me, they admired my many-colored coat

And hugged me with conciliatory promises.

But I was offended rather than flattered

By their amazed shock at my success;

They were never surprised when I failed.


On the Wednesday before Easter, at Mass

I was issued detention for my missing blazer.

It occurred to me, as my sisters stumbled over my knees,

Rushing to be finger fed Jesus before an audience of outcasts

That the rest of us were foster children--cared for but not quite

Members of the family; we belonged to our own

Celestial tribe of spiritual nomads, only temporary guests

In this recruiting ground for nuns.

I decided then,

I can frolic free-style across the heavens

Without smearing a penitent cross on my forehead.

There is enough ash in the world as it is.