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.

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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.

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