Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Ontology of Three-Year-Olds in Mass

You ask me, “How was mass,”
and I don’t know what to say.

Are you asking about the homily,
whether the priest inspired, entertained?
Are you asking about the quality
of the presence of I AM?

How should I respond?
What could I ever say?

But I think that what you mean is something like
how did the kids behave?
I’m glad you’re home;
welcome back
to the day-to-day.

But still, you framed it up that way:
How was mass?
I don’t know whether to answer the question that you meant
Or the one you asked.

Shall I say that God is always God,
that mass is always good
(even if my countenance betrays my mood
which perhaps betrays a lack of faith
perhaps because the two year old
perhaps attempted to abscond
with, perhaps, the purse and hair
of the parishioner she could reach
with her toes—
can you imagine the indignity of someone else’s
in your
at mass
that she—the two-year-old—forgot to put her panties on,
and I only noticed when she found a way
to hang
from the pew, my face, the missal
by her toes—
yes, you’re counting right:
that’s three times I had to turn her over,
peel her from my face—
why, I wonder, did the Almighty see fit
to give toes to toddlers)?

These things have nothing
to do with the metaphysical question you just asked.

And so I stutter in the kitchen,
end up shooed away.
“She doesn’t understand these kinds of conversations,”
I hear him say apologetically,
and I’m grateful because here I am,
months later,
still wondering:
How was mass?
And thinking

Thank God she’s three!

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