What's the matter? Are you OK? only my fifth call home in eleven years
I'm leaving the seminary, said out loud for the first time impossible to breathe back in those fatal words rehearsed for three weeks afraid to break her heart six months from the altar of God her only son offering Mass just for her to pass through the gates of heaven repay her for all those years she lugged bushel upon bushel of other people's wash into her home bought a mangle burned her right hand ironing faster and faster to keep me out of Ford's River Rouge foundry
Did you lose your vocation? Lose? like I lost those wool gloves she sent me for Christmas? lose as if I actually owned it? lose forever never to find again?
I'm just not cut out for this life ain't that the truth nothing but the truth certainly not the whole truth silence about the vote cast by all the priests brothers seminarians in perpetual vows three spare no's lined up behind the first black ball
The canary yellow envelope at mail call aroused the other seminarians, “What's the occasion?” “Ya got me,” I lied and peeked in at two Mallards landing on a Blessed Virgin blue pond with a largemouth bass leaping to greet them under the swirling script in the sky— Happy Birthday To A Wonderful Son— the only reminder that tomorrow, just another day in the sem, was my birthday, the seventh since any celebration with Mom and Sarah, my sister, the seventh away from Winthrop Street in Detroit, half a continent west, my third birthday with my new family the Congregation of the Holy Ghost whom I adopted with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience a family but no gifts, not even a handkerchief, no three-layer cake lathered with angel-white icing, lipstick-red roses, first slice for the birthday boy, no candles, family, friends to sing Happy Birthday to You