Kevin McFadden

A Shame

She must have been the holdout vote, Sister Theresa,
the one nun unhappy at being unhabited, eighty-three
and teaching second grade, forced by the youngbloods
of her progressive order to wear common clothes,
to don each day one of two blue outfits she owned
which made her look even more snide and thin
like a pied parakeet just plucked and busted down
the bird ranks from penguin. A shame
she unsheathed on us, no brides of Christ ourselves,
the cushy brand of Catholics her soft Pope
never had learn Latin. She kept holy our English
from Gothic incursions (“foliage not foilage,”
“am not never ain’t“) but, little smart Alaric I was,
I posed the pointedest questions in my grade,
like what “endsmeat” was and why my parents moaned
they couldn’t make it. Like, if Christ were divine,
weren’t we de branches? But that was blasphemy, boy,
a trip to the principal’s, hauled from my chair by
a pinched part of my ear. I took revenges. Said
“lead a snot” into temptation. Made the chalkboard’s
Art and Spelling read FArt SMelling in the few sly strokes
that trick took before recess. I confess. My relic’s the ear
St. Peter struck from the servant. I permit and permute
(did father say “Seek heaven” or “See Kevin?”)
til I’m off to the office again for what I won’t
hear. Sinning some. Grinning some. Led by the ear.

Kevin McFadden
“Far Out” first appeared in The Seattle Review, Issue XXV, Vol. 3, 2003.