Robert E. Jordan
Member Rara Avis
We’re in second grade.
We gotta go get special structions
down the basement Saint Michael’s Church,
so we can take first communion
with the kids going Saint Michael’s School.
We go to public school,
where they call us cat lickers,
which really sucks
because we have to hit them
when they call us that
and some, are big and mean.
Mom says we gotta hit them anyway
or we’ll go to hell when we die.
Mom says I have to “Defend the faith
against Protestants or any type of heathen
that might make fun of Holy Mother Church.”
We’re a little lucky though
cause the kids going to Saint Michael’s
get hit all the time
we hear about it in public school
we get hit too but not like at Saint Michael’s.
School’s not much fun anywhere.
Sister Walburga’s our teacher.
She’s all right and very old
she talks nice to us
doesn’t get mad when we make mistakes
practicing taking Holy Communion.
She tells us it’s the Body and Blood
of Jesus Christ. It really is you know.
Tells us all about the miracle of
and makes us learn to spell the word.
Sister gets us ready for first confession,
where we have to tell Father John
all the nasty stuff we’ve done
since we were born.
She tells us to make a list, write it down,
and take it with us when we go confession
Friday afternoon, before our first
Sister takes us up the Church
so’s we can tell Father John what we did.
Fred’s the first to go in the booth,
he doesn’t seem too worried
comes out and walks out of the Church
as cool as ever. Nothing ever bothers Fred.
Charlie, our black friend goes in next
comes out in a little while smiling says
Ralph goes in next,
he’s in there a long time,
comes out crying,
runs out the Church.
I think, “Whoa, Jesus Christ Ralph,
what the hell did you do anyway?”
Maybe I should just get up and leave now.
I’m next to go sit the booth,
Father John sits behind the little latticed door.
After Ralph coming out like that,
I’m as nervous as hell.
I tell Father John about swearing at Mom,
he says that’s a bad thing to do,
I must never do it again.
Then I tell him about stealing money
from Ralph’s Mom’s change purse
when she has me over to eat.
He says that’s bad too,
he doesn’t want me to steal from people
that are trying to be nice.
Then I tell him about how
I sometimes get hungry,
steal apples, and bananas
from Mr. Schmitt’s fruit stand.
He says that not too bad
that I have an obligation to take care
of the body that God gave me.
I think he’s softening up,
so I tell him about that time with
the man in the garage, what he did to me.
I tell him all about it.
He makes some noise back there, says
“Holy Mother of God.”,
and then doesn’t say anything for a while.
Finally, he tells me
I didn’t do anything bad.
All the sin was on the man,
it wasn’t my fault at all.
He mentions something about millstones
around the bad man’s neck
that I don’t quite catch.
Father John asks if there is anything else,
I want to tell him.
He tells me God forgives my sins.
I have to go say three hail Marys
and one Our Father for my penance,
because I swore at my Mother,
and stole money from Ralph’s Mom.
Then he asks me to pray for him.
I feel better and relieved, like a new person.
Some of those things
had worried me for a long time,
but I’m Ok now.
Mom gets me all scrubbed up,
decks me out in shiny new shoes and socks,
white pants, and a brand new white shirt.
She’s been saving her money from tips.
She gives me a Rosary to hold between my hands,
and trots me off to Mass
with the rest of the kids.
Mom takes me over to Ralph’s place
with Fred and Charlie.
We have a party with cake and soda.
We can eat now.
I’m pure and holy,
and feel about as good as
I’ve ever felt about myself.