I don’t wanna say he was innocent-beyond-belief

or even over-sheltered.

I mean there were Catholics right next door

and he did quit being a Junior-Mason, aka a DeMolay

when his Catholic friend was blackballed


folks said

the friend

couldn’t keep their secrets

but would have to tell them to a priest.


he’d never been inside the Catholic church

that stood right across the street

from his family’s bare-crossed Presbyterian home ground,

not to mention that he went to public school

and learned only the things they felt like teaching

which happened to include

classes in secular Latin.

I mean, can you say “Puella pulchra”?

He could and still can.


And so it came to pass that,

maybe an odd ten years later

and a few that came out even, too,

he was sitting

in a first grade classroom





Let’s back up a little farther forward first.



it all started when he was sitting

in a room

in a house

with a woman and two girls who were her daughters

and heard a voice that sounded very like his outside voice

except that this time it was deep inside his head

and a hell of a lot more calm than usual

and so he listened


when it said to him and only him,

“Oh my god, I fit here.”


maybe three nights later,

he and the woman were on the house’s back porch

knee-deep in a bottle of plum wine

because they thought it helped them

tie the knots in their growing rengay tighter



two pulchrae puellae stood before them.

“Mom,” they said,

“is it okay if we talk to him?

You can stay and listen if you want.”

Rengay interrupted and permission granted,

they went on.

“You wouldn’t know this,


they said,

“but our mom is happiest when you’re around


if you’ll move in with us,

we’ll give you presents every day.”



That said, let’s try again.


And so it came to pass that,

two remarkably even weeks later,

he was sitting 

at his first-ever parent-teacher conference

in a female first-grader’s classroom

when he heard his truelove say, “Are you ok?”


Sorry,” he said,

“I just got


trying to figure out

how my beautiful brand-new daughter

learns as much as she always does

in a room where she’s gotta be 

constantly distracted 

by the statue of the dead guy

who’s bleeding down the wall.”