Mommy wept when she learned
About the countless trips I took to the garden of Eden
Each time with a different Adam.
Daddy only clenched the beer bottle
And tugged on his mustache.
Reverend Buckley, the “pillar of community”
That cracked ten years ago,
Brandished a burning cross over my head.
And when he saw that I wasn’t scared of fire,
He sent me to Father Mahoney, who sprinkled me
With holy water and bits of catechism.
But I sat on the bench, bare legs crossed,
Head tilted to a side: “Care for a cigarette, Father?”
The stout Irishman said it was time to remove
Rotting fruit from the basket.
“But, Father!” I cried. “I love my work!
And when God calls me on the carpet,
I’ll have a million stories for Him.”
Oh, how many heads crushed into my lap,
Ugly, empty, half-crazed heads that nobody else would hold.
How many hands with swollen veins and blackened nails
Clutched my skirts. My fingers are permanently salted
With the sweat and tears I’ve wiped off.
When my boys raise their brides’ veils in church,
Dizzy from incense and electric organ music,
They’ll remember me, who offered her lips to replace
The mouth of a whiskey bottle.
I scatter caresses like seeds to birds: to the right,
To the left, behind each shoulder, without looking behind.
While Juliet and Ophelia die, Mary Magdalene stays.