Sunday Night in the Convent

Years after the Sisters of the Holy Names left
You unlock the door.

I consider all the women who entered this door before me.
How they must have stood, their backs straight, shoulders square,
Holding a lone suitcase as their eyes adjusted to the quiet, dim
    light;
What strength they must have had when they lifted that suitcase,
Heavy with everything they kept of themselves,
And climbed the staircase.


They were kind women who welcomed me as a child,
Invited me to sit on their sofa, eat chocolates from a crystal bowl.
And they were bold women who held my newborn,
Claimed Sister Lorena could bless her just as well as any priest
If the Blessed Mother were standing watch, and so she did.


I want to share this with you. Instead you kiss me.
You kiss me with such force ancient prayers break
From the rafters and spiral downward,
Fight for space between our palms, our lips,
Between each pressing thigh, each gasp for breath.


I want to break away, rush toward the staircase,
Fall into the arms of a cloistered ghost, seek refuge.
Instead I struggle against your grip on my wrist.
I taste your heat and notice again how thin is the veil
That separates a holy silence from an unsung song.


Read on . . .

Morning Mass with Dad,” a poem by Rosanne English


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