Morning hasn’t fully come awake. The water is soft, a peacock blue,
not the deep shade in French cathedrals caught between leaded cames
like pieces broken from the sky. Two gulls quarrel over a mussel shell,
Frightened, the sanderlings run away. The tide is quietly going out,
but still pushes toward me the delicate lace of my First Communion veil
when we used to bless ourselves in the Holy Water font and genuflect,
solemnly clutching nickels for the collection. I touch my fingers to the salt
and taste it. The sea grass whispers its mea culpas. It’s too early for the sun
to be so scalding. The Host in its dazzling monstrance lifted heavenward
used to dizzy me so, I’d have to float down the aisle and try not to fall
into the black specks before my eyes--sins the nuns already insisted
spoiled my immortal soul. In daylight, sobbing, at seven years old,
I contemplated St. Francis in the hedges, holding out his arms for birds
to fly to him, all the loved animals crouched at his feet. St. Francis, let me be
your little sparrow, saved. The east wind has come up. I hate that I shiver still.
Immovable marble. The wooden Christ. I wonder how soon I will die.