Cloistered

When I was a boy, I considered
becoming a nun because I didn’t
want to shave part of my scalp
like I saw the monks had to do.
I never told anyone but God.

But one night after I’d prayed,
I heard Him giggling about it,
sounding like the muted laugh
of my daddy through the flimsy
wood-panel walls of our trailer.
Then I heard the Benny Hill
theme song Yakety Sax, and
so I realized that my daddy
had gotten back up in the night
and was watching TV alone.

Advertisement

I kept quiet to listen, but then
rain on the trailer’s metal roof,
like God drumming His fingers
impatiently—how long would
He have to wait for me to give
a prayer that wasn’t so nunnish?
A plea for a girlfriend? A plea
for muscles? A plea to be me?
The rain was brief, like spittle.

As I lay in the dark on my bed,
I couldn’t hear God’s chuckles
at a country boy’s prayers about
growing up to be a Protestant nun
nor hear the sight gags making
the unseen TV audience laugh in
jubilant testimony with my daddy.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Poetry

The latest from america

 Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, kneels at El Paso's Memorial Park holding a Black Lives Matter sign June 1, 2020. Bishop Seitz and other clergy from the Diocese of El Paso, prayed and kneeled for eight minutes, the time George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was said to have spent under a police officer's knee before becoming unconscious and later dying May 25, 2020. (CNS photo/Fernie Ceniceros, courtesy Diocese of El Paso)
“Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the bishops for their pastoral tone in the church’s response to the demonstrations across the country in their statements and actions since the death of George Floyd.”
Demonstrators in Washington gather along the fence surrounding Lafayette Park outside the White House on June 2, 2020. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
A round up of some of the reaction to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
America StaffJune 03, 2020
We have been crying out this question for centuries. But we cannot cry it alone anymore.
Mario Powell, S.J.June 03, 2020
James Baldwin was the author of The Fire Next Time among other works. He died in 1987 (Photo Credit: Dan Budnik)
Baldwin’s words explore what hatred can do not only to society at large but to the individual who bears it.
Stephen AdubatoJune 03, 2020