Pieta

I

“I hear that when God closes a door

he must open a window.”

Sister Louise did not respond to my joke.

She was unmoved from her post

at the window,

as if waiting for God

to emerge from the rain

and remove the pane,

staring at something

I could not see.

I returned to digging

my jackknife into the table,

carving out meaning

in random numbers

in hopes of fooling students,

years to come

after me.

 

II        

Indescribable, but

unforgettable, the feeling

of wet clay drowned

in neglected buckets,

crafted into figurines

by children before they are ready.

“Come inside!” and they race indoors

before the rain 

soaks their uniforms, their skin,

and “catch cold”

as Sister Louise says—

All except little Tessie.

Making a masterpiece

out of the melting clay.

Tessie—stubbornly fighting

the burrowing tack

under her fingernails

the too tight black shoes

now sopping socks

Sister Louise calling.

The girl studies her handiwork.

It is no Pieta.

(It is more grass than dirt.)

But it is hers,

and pray she saves it,

or else let all Pietas be 

​cold stone and empty 

eyes, unable to cast

a thousand storms

sinking into the deep

trenches, the Styx,

the waiting Leviathan.

 

III

“Come inside!” 

Sister Louise stands at the arch

until a stream from the roof 

narrowly misses her wimple.

She closes the door.

She moves to the window,

wipes away the steam on the pane,

and waits.

This poem is about: 
Me

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