Cunning at eleven: Back in the States,
when the scuffed-shoe village priest asks
for her recent crimes, she changes the subject;
cadged root beer barrels, skipped catechism
classes, illicit cigarettes, the kissed boy in the cellar—
wows instead with images of old Pope Paul
greeting crowds from his gilded and red-velveted
apartment in St. Peter’s Square, the bony hand
of blessing, ecstasy and tears of the faithful.
She details every intimate, clean curve
of Michelangelo’s Pieta, tells of how
marbled Roman halls echo with Christ,
notes the death odor belch of sacred grottoes,
frescoed circus ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Aroused, the priest forgets her absolution,
the very damnation of her soul, reaches
with a visible tremble for his hip flask, as
she learns there is an art form to everything.
*Note: This poem also appeared online in May, 2011, in The Literary Burlesque (now defunct).