Parts Of A Whole
There were seven of us: Jim, John, Mary,
Marge, Tom, Dan, Patty. A large family?
Mid-size in our flat, fly-over prairie
land where farmers had kids practically
for chores and Catholics practiced rhythm.
We knew families of sixteen, eighteen;
a sports team, playing with algorithms.
Yet seven’s still seven and it could mean
the loss of self in a community
of kin or townsfolk—she’s a Rogers kid.
Benefitting from an immunity,
parts of a whole held in a tight, wide grid,
we grew interdependently, secured,
separating, on our own, self-assured.
Not knowing how to say no to God, I
answered the call, entering the convent
at eighteen, just a young girl giving my
self, whole body and soul, feeling I lent
my life to superiors and others,
serving fellow sisters, celestial spouse,
the congregation’s good neighbors. Mother
of none and all, taking the solemn vows
to insure success in this vastly broad
mission. Gaining from silence and prayer,
I acted in faith and love; not a fraud
till I knew I needed to leave, to dare
to hope for less and more defined jewels:
a husband, children, job, and—my rules.
She didn’t show up. I had them dressed, fed,
ready. Until the very last minute,
I debated my few options, then said,
I’ll cancel the interview. A limit
acknowledged in my life. Not free to do
as I please: a socially committed
lawyer husband with pay that didn’t accrue,
busy grandparents, daycare unfitted
for my three. Stay home. Take care of the kids:
my mandate. I didn’t mind too much. I liked
to fix up the house, buy realty bids,
watch my children play, talk, draw, read, and write.
Now I know that hasty decision made
to mind mine as the best possible trade.