Thursday, October 6, 2016

national poetry day poem of the day 10.06.16

in celebration of National Poetry original.

paddle me party

i don’t remember
what i’d done
some first grade infraction
that had pushed it too far with the teacher
but there i was in the principal’s office
with all of the other bad boys and girls
from grades one through six
crowded around the old nun’s desk
her images of mary and jesus
benevolently looking down
at all of us from the walls
blessed porcelain white saint francis statue in the corner
periwinkle rosary beads hanging like a noose
there was one boy bent over the desk
i could barely see him from behind all of the older kids
just his waist, his horse-brown belt
where the dress shirt tucked into navy blue slacks
but i could see sister laurentia
her pale, virginal face calm and poised
her black habit and cat glasses and puckered un-kissed lips
a true bride of christ
with her golden crucifix around the neck
the wooden paddle held aloft
like some sacramental offering
i couldn’t make out what she was saying either
those nuns talked with such holy softness
even when clutching a child’s arm to black and blue
pulling a child’s hair as they frog marched one down the hall
but i could hear the paddle when it went SWOOSH!
hitting that kid right on his ass
the way he cried as the SWOOSH! SWOOSH!
came two more times
before she sent him back into the crowd
humbled and humiliated and sobbing
our pre-pubescent savior
our martyr, our sacrificial lamb
because sister laurentia let the rest of us off
with just a warning that afternoon
after we recited one our father
promised her at least three extra hail marys
the next time we went with our class to confession
and that we’d always be good
from now until god the giver of this life
gave us our last earthly breath.                                     

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