I started going to St. Ignatius of Loyola Roman
Catholic Church with my friend Matt on Saturday
afternoons, when he had to go to Confession.
It was cool and quiet there with only a soft murmuring
in the background, like a stream in deep woods.
Any noise, like when I dropped the kneeling bench,
sounded like thunder echoing in a cave, but turned no heads.
Sometimes I'd go there alone to sit and watch the old women
light candles and pray. No one talked to me until that day when
Father Pat suddenly appeared saying he was Father Pat,
and, was I okay? I liked the way he talked. It was the way
our neighbors talked who had come from Ireland.
Matt had told me about nice priests and mean priests so I knew
Father Pat was okay. If it had been Father Tom I'd have run.
Father Pat could tell I was crying. I don't know why, it was nothing
unusual. I don't remember what else he said; then he looked up,
saw you, and said, "Kathleen, show this fellow where he can
wash up, would you?" You looked at me and said, "Come on,"
and we walked, you leading the way as you always have,
down the stairs to the basement and a door with "LAVATORY"
printed in gold letters. You pointed and I went in to discover
Lavatory was Catholic for bathroom. You were waiting
in the hallway when I came out, a skinny girl wearing
the St. Ignatius of Loyola dark blue uniform. You asked
if I was new here and I said no, I was Jewish.
You didn't have any breasts then, but later
I would call the one Iggy and the other Lola
because of the two words I read on your chest.
I was too shy to look you in the eye.
Howard Kogan, Indian Summer, Square Circle Press, 2011.