Word echoed off a door closed, blurred mettle, First Communion, practice session,
tabernacle touched, desire in knowing gold’s texture, fingerprint, panic-stricken, heckled
away by suggestive cough
Cemetery visit, just first class, games of tig, cops and robbers, open space around
poplars, too guilty to play, walked across grave and shuddered at deadly trespass, two
mortal sins in one day:
No chance now, not even a snowball’s of redemption, never mind Communion
Stayed in at lunch to confess to teacher,
the second sin, first too sacred, Altar-of-The-Lord, to be mentioned
You walked across a grave? – Yes, Miss Brady.
What year was it? – The writing was faded, Miss Brady, but I think it was 1879.
A cackle and Go out and play.
Went out, didn’t play, was it a sin or not?
Tongue lolled by infant’s hand, end of lunch, brass peals never to everyone’s liking
Got in line, alphabetical, middling surname, sudden gust blew up teacher’s skirt, saw
frilly knickers, everyone grinned, and she said there’d be extra homework
Rustled papers, crusts and rind: field mouse in bin added drama to afternoon, laughter
and squeals, wonderment, till teacher pulverized it with broom handle
And when Lena Foran asked the teacher if she’d seen her pencil, George Harrington, the Special Boy, Cookie Monster, leapt from desk, smacked wrists, hopped up and down, trademark fit, proclaimed how pencil was down below, lost forever in flames, property of Old Nick, until set upon by teacher and walloped back into place and listlessness, recital of European capitals, incapable of one-plus-one
In whom could I’ve confided back then?
All sang from the same sheet, same hems and haws, matter of breviary
If only I’d known a gentle voice that would’ve whispered:
Fingerprint on tabernacle? A sin so serious, it’s overcome by
the vestrywoman’s cloth.
Footprint on grave? A sin so serious, it’s overcome by
the growth of summer.
Colm Keenan was born in 1981. In 2010/2011 he studied an MA in Creative Writing at UCD. He is from County Kildare.