It’s curious about the massed communicants,

not the few tied and suited boys, especially,

but the virginally, wedding-gowned girls

in lace and taffeta, prim alabaster angels

now pledged, going steady with the Church.


Are they truly knowledgeable at their age

to know right from wrong and to distinguish

heaven’s wine and manna from fruits of evil?


Mass ends and the newly sated pass

slowly, processing down the aisle;

at least one pre-nun, guided between

beaming parents, head tilted back, eyes

tight shut, hands still clasped in devotion,

is graced by the faith of incomprehension.


by Richard Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

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