Friday, February 3, 2012

The Amateur Nun

In those times,
Under imprimatur of the parish and all holy things,
I was an amateur nun.
The sacrament of marriage was one I took seriously;
It permeated everything I did,
Like incense smoke from a swaying censer,
Part and parcel of my monochrome attire.

Kiss me, I would say, a little breathless,
Tilting my face up,
Doing my best to manufacture a rapture I did not feel,
As absent as my dreams.
Each Good Friday we would line up silently to kneel and kiss the cross--
In the face of such real suffering,
Such bone-deep love,
Such magnificent sacrifice,
I felt puny in my complaints, and hissed at myself to shut up and do my little part.

I was an amateur nun.
I raised a child up in the way he should go.
I went to work,
I came to bed,
I lay myself in offering as if I were the body and the blood,
But I was only wine and wafer,
Not blessed, available in any grocery store.

I wanted to be my family's Jordan,
But I was dammed,
An earnest, well-meaning trickle for thirteen years.

I needed a miracle.
My miracle came;
Seven years into my calling,
And too soon to take.

Irish women are half angel and half devil,
And have a keen race-memory about snakes.
We are as common as potatoes,
And as likely to ply the old magick as to take the veil.

Some nuns have green eyes,
Some are naturally gifted healers,
And some take male names as per the custom.
Have you heard what they say,
About nuns,
Sometimes?
What they say is true.

I found a catechism I could crave
At the tips of her fingers.
I found my One True Faith
Hip to hip with her, and I rose from my grave
For one glorious transforming day,
Then went back home
And did the laundry.

I was an amateur nun,
And I kept my calling til my calling was done;
But you know what they say about Irish women,
Some gone ginger, some gone black--
I grew my hair and unbound my heart;
I gave up my vows and will never turn back.
_______


For Fireblossom Friday--"Temptation and Confession." Join us!

21 comments:

Mama Zen said...

I could read this over and over, Shay.

hedgewitch said...

Lord Shay--you know how to ace a prompt. This is a lovely poem by word mood and feel, but also a narrative that can't be put down, a prayer book impossible not to read, even for an atheist like me. Last two stanzas wind up the spell to perfection.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Yes, perfection was the word on my lips too. Wow. Being an Irish woman not unfamiliar with magick, and one who also had to liberate myself, as do we all, this poem speaks to me so beautifully. I LOVE your final two lines which simply could not be any more perfect.

Lolamouse said...

Wow! I read this one eagerly, wondering where it was going to go. Wasn't disappointed.

You do know that those "Just Say No" programs don't really work, don't you? Big waste of money and time...

Marian said...

happy to read it.

Kay L. Davies said...

Shay, this is fabulous. I used to know so many women who did that nun/wife thing, really.
And I know about big-time temptation, more recently than I care to admit. So I'm going to write about small-time temptation. Funny thing is, the "small-time" one is more apt to be the death of me. Weird, that.
K

Hannah Pratt said...

This was beautiful to read but I am confused yet again...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I had to come back and read it again. I so relate to "an earnest well-meaning trickle for thirteen years". Been there! LOVE the unbinding of the hair (and the fetters!)

Laurie Kolp said...

Love the metaphor running through this... to be stuck in a marriage and then discover who you really are... enjoyed this!

Kerry O'Connor said...

You are an inspiration to every women who seeks to break the bonds that keep her tied to any kind of unfulfilling servitude or relationship going nowhere.

Mystic_Mom said...

Such a wonderful read...so many kinds of bonds to break and be free of. Love this!

Daydreamertoo said...

I am so glad you gave up trying to be something that you clearly couldn't be and became who you were meant to become.
What a lovely read. Thanks for such a great prompt. :)

Sara said...

WOW. This one is such a powerful read. It's a bill of rights in poetry:~)

What's this about Fireblossom Friday? I'll check it out.

Ya'll have a good weekend, now:~)

Brian Miller said...

whew...way to bring the holy heat shay...love that first stanza where you break in with irish woman and then wrap back to it in the end...great piece..

Susie Clevenger said...

This is awesome...nothing like a freedom song. You hit the prompt on the head and took it hostage! I want to write for this prompt...today just wasn't a good day for it.

Bodhirose said...

This is a similar story to mine...in a sense. I'm glad you found your more comfortable self...leaving my marriage did that for me.
Gayle ~

Cloudia said...

see, that TITLE filled my poor head with SO much richness . . still savoring it.....
poem?! but Mom I'm FULL!
poor silly me!

Warm Aloha from Hawaii
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Margaret said...

For one glorious transforming day,
Then went back home
And did the laundry.

I was an amateur nun,
And I kept my calling til my calling was done;


Many people are selfish when they give in to temptation. I'm glad the amateur nun returned, kept her "vows" until the job was done. This was a beautiful, personal write and I enjoyed it immensely.

Heaven said...

I enjoyed the personal write...I think you are a fearless writer to share your journey.

I read this though more of a confession, and a decision to take another journey ~

Amazing prompt..thanks for hosting ~

zongrik said...

great take on the prompt

edenhills said...

Wow! What a wonderful poem of choices.