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Sister Doreen

Sister Doreen

paced up and down the rows

between our desks,

yardstick in her

grasp, ready to rap

the knuckles of our hands,

should we dare to grin or

sneer, fail to pray Hail Mary

without the reverence

She was due.


the school at recess,

we surmise

she’s never had sex,

been a frump since she was

eight, wouldn’t know a

condom from a balloon.

She greets us back

with a snarl,

ever-scanning for


bellowing wipe that stupid


off your face!

And that’s the moment

when you did it,

took a napkin from your


dragged it across

your curling lips,

your mouth a rigid

line, like the pews

at Sunday Mass,

or the cross above

the Confessional,

in which you’ll enter

the day before,

offer remorse

to the forgiving


who’d met the Sister

years ago, when she was

a postulant,

one who took a binder

to her breasts,

a practice

she began at

13 years, after her

father began to fondle

her in the dark,

shoved his hand

between her legs,

in front of Mary

cloaked in blue

upon the wall,

who later offered

solace, a place

where she was shielded

from the touch,

where the only

naked man

she’d ever see

was nailed above her head,

in wood and then in

gold around her neck,

unable to lift a finger

in the night.

Andreas Gripp

July 29, 2023

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