At seven
all I knew about nuns
was Katie said they were
married to God.
I saw them when
we went to her parish in the summer
and sang songs and took the holy sacraments.

I never thought about them again
until I was nine and my mother
shared a room with Sister Josephine
at the sanitarium.
She sent notes on stationery
that had the scent of her powder
on the paper.
I carried them, deep
creased, in my pocket.

I remember
how she tried to give me her things
and she seemed so sleepy,
the empty bottle of phenobarbital.
The paramedics and my aunt
raised their voices
for her to open the door
and the door opened,
her lifeless body face down.

I went from house to house,
a chain of paper dolls.

I wondered sometimes if I married God too…

She laid in bed for 32 days
waiting for angels to take her away
in the white sun dress she wore
when my father peeled her arms
off his chest.
Hysteria flooding,
hammers falling all over her body.

Maybe I should have been more conscious that day.

The sky had a cutout
in the shape of where she stood.
I walked through that colorless hole
to find her.

Closed window. Closed heart.

I remember when she came back,
the month John Lennon was killed.
I looked out my bedroom window
down at the slush on the street.


* * *

“Nuns” by Heather Ann Schmidt comes from her book Transient Angels (2011, Crisis Chronicles Press).

Heather Ann Schmidt
received her MFA from National University and has taught writing for a number of higher learning institutions.  A fine singer and visual artist, she also edits the tinfoildresses poetry journal and is the founding editor of Recycled Karma Press.  Her other books include Red Hibiscus (Crisis Chronicles 2013), Batik (NightBallet, 2012), On Recalling Life Through the Eye of the Needle (Village Green, 2011), Channeling Isadora Duncan (Gold Wake, 2009) and The Bat’s Love Song: American Haiku (Crisis Chronicles, 2009).  Her latest, Field Notes, is forthcoming in 2014.