Thank you for taking time to read the material posted here. I would be pleased if you could comment, and I promise to comment back. Sincerely, Nancy


Thursday, April 1, 2010



When you enter a church
you get this – empty – feeling
as if . . . no one was there
but everyone – is – looking.

(Those wide wooden floors
in my grade school, and doors
opening to the hall, everyone
was looking.)

The altar at church is so
extravagant – God – lives
there inside a golden box near
little booths – a line forms
and nerves happen, the closer
we get to the red drape.

(The drapes Grandmother
made for her parlor are
nothing like these)

We all wondered why God
needed the man behind the
screen – to listen to us – to
hear us when we said, “I’m sorry.”
And at five, did we do anything
too – wrong?

(When I was bad at home, I
ran away to hide behind my
bedroom door.)

It was the Priest behind the
drape with a soft voice. A
Priest who would never let us
see him, and - when he whispered
his breath hit my face.

(When I talked back to mother
she sent me to my room where
I sat and stared out the screened

Inside the little booth with red
drapes, our fingers would tap and
thumbs twiddle as we sat in the dark
A slight reflection of red from
the drapes, waiting – for our
punishment – how many prayers
would we have to say at the altar?
And, in front of God, waiting in the
golden box.

(I never liked the dark, so Daddy
turned the night light on before I
went to sleep.)

Now, the Priest moved behind
the screen, his face no longer leaned
against it, his breath no longer
touching my cheeks. He now told
us how many prayers we had to
say to be forgiven, in front of
God and all his Saints.

(Grandmother she knelt everyday in
front of her table, at the foot of
her bed, and prayed.)

When it was my turn he told me
to say ten Our Fathers and ten
Hail Marys – the others watched
you finally knelt at the altar,
prayed – prayed – as they waited.

(Mother told me to hurry when
the street light turned on, because
it was getting dark)

We left the quiet place where
no one was – but, everyone was -
looking. Outside, on the steps of
the church we all looked at one
another and laughed – pointed at
the one who prayed the longest.

(But I knew God was not laughing
inside the golden box, like
Grandmother never laughed when
she prayed.)

Nancy Duci Denofio

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