by Michael Brockley
The day Sister Mary Molaug ran headfirst into the wall of her classroom at St. Dismas, her
pupils were diagramming sentences on paper that reeked of vinegar. Scratching lines for
trapdoors to dependent clauses. In the seventh grade, the boy who rang the communion bell at
the wrong time during Mass scribbled Tannenbaums that resembled dirigibles on the margins of
history. Until Sister Uncumber exiled him to the basement where the janitor collected flawed
science projects and Dear John letters. To the catacombs cluttered with split infinities. The boy’s
desk by the radiator was replaced by an iron maiden inherited from a monk who baptized the
werewolves of Rouen. The mysteries that separate nouns from verbs like exorcisms. The tethers
attached to the purgatories below. By the time the Father Confessor discovered the nun with her
concussion, the children had regressed to pagans. Loki and Ishtar assigned every child to a tribe.
The children gathered in a circle to draw lots for the sacrifice while the Father Confessor
mourned the world’s faltering faith. This conspiracy of clauses teeming like plague. Those
borderlines that always lean toward the past. The altar boy forgotten in the basement hunting for
any reason to say another Act of Contrition.
Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana where he is looking for a dog to adopt. His poems have appeared in Last Stanza Poetry Journal, Down in the Dirt, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan. Poems are forthcoming in Marrow Magazine, Eunoia Review, The Parliament Literary Journal, and Of Rust and Glass.