Natalie RoweMy grandmotherís rosary beads
were shellacked with the sweat
of daily devotion. She took wafer and wine
on knees calloused by damp linoleum, fissured
by the genuflections of motherhood:
six noses to wipe, twelve laces to tie
a half-dozen frayed coats to button.
Keeping an eye on the Jesus
nailed to her kitchen wall,
she boiled cabbage and stripped spuds,
an unfiltered Playerís
papered to her lower lip,
her heavenly ascension.
When I was twelve, they buried her
with those beads in her fingers,
an infinite novena, and for a while
I mimicked her fervour
hoping for her belief.
But it didnít come in a cathedral,
or in the monotonous homilies
of suburban priests,
or in the Hail Marys
I said to scrub my soul.
Instead it manifested
in fall warblers eyeing me
as they picked cluster flies
off the vinyl siding,
and in the ambush bug
overpowering a bee in the goldenrod,
and in Saturnís rings the first time
I saw them through a telescope,
and most of all,
on the back of a cantering horse
as I begged, Please God,
donít let me fall off this thing!
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