What    the    Nuns    Taught    Us

I.	At St. Bede's, bad perms and gold chains
	were the closest we ever came to God.
	I was thirteen, caught off-guard by a body

	already overblown, and my new thighs
	that strained against the tight pleats
	of my regulation skirt, which rode up

	unashamedly whenever I sat down.
	Every morning the nuns vetted for
	too-transparent blouses, parrot-bright

	jewelry, or overly conspicuous socks.
	Any signs of incipient slutdom were punished
	by a public thwack on the face.

	My father said this was nothing.  When he
	was eight, a nun threw him through a partition
	over a smart mouth and a ripped cuff.

II.	My first crush was suspended that year,
	for repeatedly unbuttoning his shirt in class
	and flaunting his adolescent chest

	like a thin southern Rambo.
	All the girls cooed over his defiantly lank hair,
	the way his finger flicked across our backs

	during morning prayers.  Occasionally
	he dragged me behind a wall at lunch,
	his breaking voice breathing obscenities

	into my ear.  I lived for those first swift pinnings,
	though more for the mad dashes
	into the schoolyard afterwards,

	cross swinging freely from my neck as I ran.
	Plaid-swathed girls, greedy for every detail,
	pigeoned tight around me.  My lips opened

	again, flushed still with the bump and rush
	of his face against mine, hard and angular
	as the school rules we all knew.

Like my poem? Hate it? Released some of your repressed school experiences? Let me know...


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