Hiding Faith

Cynthia Paterno said if I became a Catholic I would have a cleaner
soul so I turned my closet into an altar using books, shoe boxes,
candle stubs from the dining room, lace cloths from the top shelf of the
linen closet where I often hid, and
odd detritus found in the sewing box.
Like a squirrel hiding nuts, I hid faith.
Every night I put my hands together like Audrey Hepburn
in The Nun’s Story and prayed.
“Please God! Let Betty Webster let me into her secret
club!” “Please God! Let my sister get ugly!”
“Please God! Let the dog be able to sleep in my room tonight!”
Sometimes I would put a white towel over my head and convince myself
I had Christ as a husband though I was only nine.
I never ate in there or spoke and though I was convinced I might
hear voices I never heard a word.
I had to close the closet door carefully knowing it might
latch forever and I knew no one would look for me even at
dinnertime.
Months later or maybe
it was only a few days my confessional
disappeared,
shoe boxes gone, candles
missing, our mother making sure
we had no faith as she never did
and me thinking I wasn’t good enough
for God.

Lucinda Watson taught communication at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley for fifteen years. Her book of interviews How They Achieved: Stories of Personal Achievement and Business Success was published in 2001 by Wiley. In addition, her work has appeared in over a dozen journals including The Louisville Review, The Round, Poet Laurie and Pennsylvania English. Two of her poems were nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. She received an MFA in writing at Manhattanville College. She also studied with Sharon Olds, Richard Blanco and Robert Hass. To learn more, see her listing in Poets & Writers.

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