Absolution

By Kathleen Loe

The gravelly edge of the old macadam
crunches when Daddy Man veers, slightly over
his two-cocktail breakfast limit—whoa!

And Mama’s all, “Bi-ill!”, sherry sloshing
in her Dixie cup, me and my altar-boy brothers
welded to the backseat of red Chevy summer

vinyl, our own trinity, looking and not looking
for a tiny worn-out sign set meekly back
from the scorching road—St. Lucy’s Catholic Church,

faded and falling away, not the go-to
for the church-going in this neck of the north
piney woods. Far from a hundred cathedrals

sinking in the soft black silt of New Orleans,
we aim toward a single consecrated
gray rectangle stuck in the Chitimacha’s

red clay of North Hodge. Lucky pagans,
or even Methodists, might miss the turn
and be flung past the money-stench

of the paper mill, or further still to actual
wet towns with no need for Jubilee—
Jubilee, cross-dressing bootlegger

come to wax our floors and pocket the cash
and slip my mama her black-market hooch
every week in our dry-as-dust little podunk town

in East Jesus North Looziana, the pure
whitewalled tires of her luscious pink
booze-bought Caddy cutting trenches

in the sweet St. Augustine grass
of our front yard. It ain’t me that’s drunk
in this story about having to go to church

every damn Sunday morning all summer long,
no matter how crazy hot, no matter
if my best friend Bernadette is fixin’ to go

waterskiing on Black Lake instead,
worse thing about that being the snakes
you might wake falling in the wrong spot,

but I’d still pick some dozing water moccasins
over this weekly ecclesiastical misery.
Any minor road accident would be welcome

I pray, I pray we hit a huge nine-banded
armagorilla if it means I don’t have to go
to Confession today, having traded

The Examination of Conscience last night
for finishing Catcher in the Rye under the covers,
accompanied by muffled laughs from Johnny Carson

in my parents’ bedroom. Okay. Pinched
my brother, lied to Mama, ate my best
friend’s Twinkie. Wished and wished

that I was the pretty one, instead of her.


Kathleen Loe is a poet and multi-media artist living in Hudson, NY. She also
writes critical essays for artist exhibitions. Her poetry has been published or is
forthcoming in Sugar House Review, Cagibi Lit, and Rise Up Review. Loe has
taught poetry and fiction with the Writers Studio in Hudson and is working
on a collection of poems about rootedness and growing up in the Deep South.

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