First Holy Communion


I am number two in the procession
of 8-year-olds in filmy white dresses
and net veils marching to the front of the
pew of St. Ambrose, hands folded
into steeples, eyes downcast.   When
Sister Mary Eustace signals with her
clicker, we approach the altar single
file and stick out our tongues
at Fr. Garrity to receive the body
of Christ for the first time.  Sister
has assured us that today is so special
we may ask for anything and it will
be granted, but adds it is best to pray
for sainthood.   So I do.  I ask to be made  
a saint, though I am pining for a bicycle. 

Down the aisle I go again, this time
in a cloud of bridal white, fingers tight
on the stem of a thorny red rose, eyes
studying my pumps.  I am 19 when I
march into the tuxedoed arms
of matrimonial hell, the proving
ground of a litany of women saints.
Thirty-two years later, having failed
at holiness and in the throes of divorce,
I remember that I could have had a bicycle.