Bus to San Miniato al Monte

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audioear pictureHear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)

I stood there swaying with nuns,
the only non-nun among them,
swaying with equivalent hips
at the same dips and swerves
in the road we all followed,
thinking in words we all knew.
I felt new, somehow. I felt—nun
I fancied my clean hands
haloing the dirty pole
made it a little bit cleaner.
Oh, we were distinctly aware
which of us was and wasn't one.
They nodded to me nonetheless
as lilies to a too-tall, wayward weed
sharing the same earth and taking
the same breeze-scented sun.
I felt accepted then. Ensistered.
When we arrived at the old church,
how gently we flocked out and in
and all as one looked up to praise
the way it was designed to hold the light.
We halted by the image of the man in pain.
Who would not be fascinated, dismayed?
They knelt and prayed, a sound like sluicing water.
I stayed standing, tall and fallen, as I had been
all along. They left me at the altar.

J. Allyn Rosser is the author of the collections Bright Moves (1990) and Misery Prefigured (2001). She teaches at Ohio University.
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