The wool uniform, even in summer,
the knee socks and emblem on the weskit
set us apart from the children
in public school who could wear jumpers
or leotards or whatever their mothers chose.
Sometimes we played baseball near the grotto,
the statue of the Virgin always close,
or mimicked the speech of our parents.
Nixon versus Kennedy, differences arose.
Sister Mario taught music, urged us to use
soap not shampoo when washing our hair.
We mustn’t smell too good. Shampoo
makes you vain, her dark eyebrows scolded,
the only bit of hair not hidden by her wimple.
I would be a god.
I would be perfect,
and when I died
they would build a shrine.
I would run the bases
every single time.
In the painting at my grandmother’s house,
the cardinal in red biretta, the parrot squawking
through his study, the skull on the desk,
seemed to give the solution
and the solution was art.
I would find the reasons
behind every single lie.
I would win a prize.
I would never die.