©Leslie Tsai 2009

Wedged between my mother and father in a back pew at St. Bernadette’s, I watch as suited and flowered shoulders shift and adjust, rows of physical murmuring. The lace-collared neck in front of me sprouts the head of Mrs. Diplock, whose hat, in turn, raises the stiff black loop of a bow that moves as Mrs. Diplock’s head moves in its own observations. The loop is a silhouette against a soaring window of stained glass that transmutes light into fantastic worlds.

Confession. As the line of girls entered the chapel, the nun placed a white tissue on each of their heads. The boys entered from the other side, not requiring sanctification.

I use the loop like a magnifying glass, changing the view by moving my head or waiting for Mrs. Diplock to move hers. Looking through the hole with first one eye then the other, I examine the torn hands of Jesus nailed to the cross. On the ground below is Mary, veiled and radiant on her knees, wrapped in brilliant blue with a blood-red immaculate heart.

Confession. The nun scanned the class to choose Mary for the procession. The girl tried to make herself little. Little wild heart. Immaculate heart of Mary. Joseph’s hand took hers and they proceeded down the hall.

Each piece of glass is a room of liquid colour. Mrs. Diplock shifts sideways and I peer now into the deep bell of a golden trumpet. Gaze now into the face of an angel. I imagine the rush of its wings pushing down on the air, drawing up and pushing down. The angel is trapped in the glass.

Confession. The girl knelt in the dark space, breathing air textured with remnants of sin. Behind the screen, cast in a black-red fog, the priest’s head slowly turned to calculate a child’s redemption.

Summer is over. My father has died and gone to heaven. I stand on the front porch, arms outstretched, face uplifted. I am wearing a pink cotton dress that is gathered at the waist. The wind plays around me as I jump from the top step, over and over again, closing my eyes, feeling only the autumn air rushing up against me, collecting inside my dress.

Sassy Song

©Sif Mallorn 2009

The long skull of Sassy Song
is on shelf number two
beside the humerus
of a dwarf cow.

Bones prepared by Edwina Coombs

On shelf number three rests
curled horn
of foundered hooves
disengaged (painless now).
Sassy’s song
is somewhere
Song gone
from bones
that sit below
shelf number one
on which are displayed
assorted grains
of The Modern Poultry Diet.