Middle poem #1: The  letter

When does it lose its grip
on me? When I wrote
it and sent it to the Chancery
so others will know that
he rubbed my back and
unclasped my bra
while I sat at his table
addressing church envelopes
and refusing the spice drops
in a crystal bowl
he pushed toward me.
In confession I knelt and
he slid the door open.
I looked through a grille
covered in a white handkerchief.
I said, “A man touched me
impurely” and he leaned closer.
in that box that smelled of dust
and wax and his Listerine breath.
He asked, “Who was this man?
A brother, a dad or schoolmate?”
If I lied, I’d sin again. I said,
“A neighbor guy” and sobbed.

Who did Father confess to?
He gambled and betted
on the Derby and drove his
Cadillac to Kentucky and
back and around the golfcourse,
stopping at the clubhouse
for a ham on white and whiskey.

When he made Monsignor,
he bought new clothes. The
blacks were blacker and the
purple sash too bright for Lent.
The biretta with the red
pom-pom was his favorite and
he even wore it to our
weekly religious instruction.
When he scolded us, in our
classroom with Sister Martin
standing in back, about dating
a non-catholic, his voice rose.
“Drop them like a hot potato.”
And I wanted to drop him
like a scorched spud
but instead, once a month,
was made by the sisters to go
back to that box for more.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Tricia Currans-Sheehan

Tricia Currans-Sheehan is the author of The Egg Lady, The River Road, and co-author of a trilogy Deep Skin and editor of The Briar Cliff Review until 2023. Currans-Sheehan has published stories in VQR, Connecticut Review, South Dakota Review, Puerto del Sol, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Fiction, and other journals.