Everyday    Blasphemies

	Last week my sister called, confined
	and lonely from her backwoods Virginia town.
	She was attending Mass again, she said,

	missing the solace of a Sunday journey,
	and anyway it was that or the Methodists.
	I pictured her, still unbaptized, strolling

	casually through the Communion line,
	tonguing the Host like a hit of acid
	as our renegade aunts had taught her.

	Her new roommates were scandalized.
	But I simply sat there, remembering the stone
	Mary who stretched her arms across

	my grandmother's gardens, defending 
	against earthy sins.  The weeds strung
	themselves around her like homegrown

	Christmas lights, scraped away at Easter,
	at the renewal of the daylight season.
	And I remembered another aunt,

	willed to the church at birth, who returned
	yearly to swim in her sister's pool, borrowed
	shirts draping and sticking to her body.

	Her superiors preferred this public exposure
	to our family, after we descended once
	too many times on the tiny Queens convent.

	My cousins and I were reprimanded that year
	for racing retired nuns down convent hallways;
	the Mother Superior heard the wheelchairs

	squeaking from the chapel.  Sisters, dancers,
	swimmers alike - all Catholic by compromise,
	women committing defiance, or revision.
	Converting ruse into ritual, we sought ourselves
	in every separate stance and pact, slowly
	becoming holy, unofficially, and in degrees.

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