The year I am Mary
in the Christmas pageant, I blush,
soundless next to my Joseph.
Our baby Jesus, wide unblinking eyes
edged with stiff lashes, reaches a plastic
arm to the ceiling, his mouth gaped
near my chest. My only line:
Is there room for us at the inn?
The Innkeeper, that boy who
likes me. I can tell because
he opens the door too fast.
Did you know ‘manger’
means ‘to eat’ in French? the Head Angel
said during rehearsal. I think of this
when the usher lets us snack
on leftover communion wafers.
Can’t throw them away, he says.
Blessed biscuits, sacks of garbage
tossed out back no place for Our Lord.
But our warm bellies, hallowed pits.
Two years later, the crew of us
huddle in Confirmation, washed by
the glow of The Simpsons. The Innkeeper
and I snorted pop rocks before class.
In this episode, Bart’s detention lines
make him promise he will not cut corners.
to see how much Maggie costs.
Homer eats poorly prepared puffer fish
at The Happy Sumo, has only 22 hours to live.
He wants to wake
for his last sunrise but sleeps until 11:30am.
Pastor imparts the message hidden
somewhere in the cartoon, but we jitter
from gummy worm highs, taking
nothing in. For our graduation, we give
Statements of Faith to the congregation.
I don’t know
what to say, and recite
Psalm 23, rationalize that my trust
in God has wiped clean my fear of the dark.
I forget to ask for grape juice
for my first Communion and my hands
tremble and I wonder
if now there’s room.