Half past two Wednesdays Catholic
”a fair number”would rise up
in silence when their special

buzzer jolted our Queens
classroom, summons a good
hour before our scheduled

parole to their midweek Saint
Teresa’s spiritual sparkle, a canny
swap of Byrd’s tale of his schlep

over the Antarctic or Vasco de Gama’s
spice routes for Jesus matinees.
As if aged or made wiser by this in-

cantation, they moved off with short
grainy strokes, an etiquette faith
associates with a seasoned squad

of pallbearers primed to meet
the threat of church front steep
slippery stairs, death’s dance

swift bitsy two-step sole
shuffle spilling soft sand-
paper sounds on gathered grievers

below, cargo remaining aloft,
upright. “Early dismissal
for religious instruction,”

they call it. I envied them
their discharge before our
time and think of them now

in the wake of abrupt dismissal,
return tomorrow a fool’s
gold dream, of my daughter, 24.