Raised in Mother Mary’s Image

By Lisa Masé

We must slip handkerchiefs
into our uniform pockets
before school every morning
because the nuns will check for them.
Today I choose the one embroidered by
great grandmother Elizabeth.

Riding to school on the bar
of my brother’s bicycle,
I rock side to side and laugh like crazy:
it seems impossible that we could fall.

At church after school, waiting impatiently
for my turn to swing
the frankincense censer,
I bite off my pinky nail and curse.

Too short to reach
our apartment’s gold doorbell,
I prop open the heavy oak door
with a stick when I’m sent for milk.

By evening, my ponytail feels so tight
that I can barely wait until Mom
takes it out and I can curl up
under the featherbed with a flashlight,
ready to read into the night,
grandmothers standing witness.
Lisa Masé (she/her) has been writing poetry since childhood. She teaches poetry workshops for Vermont’s Poem City events, co-facilitates a writing group, and has translated the poetry of writers from Italy, France, and the Dominican Republic. Her poems have been published by Open Journal of Arts and Letters, Wander Lost, the Long Island Review, 3 Elements, Zingara Review, River and South, and Silver Needle Press among others.