Sunday, May 15, 2011

Swallowed Be Thy Name

A couple months after I made my First Holy Communion, I was stopped by our parish priest, Father Huntington, on my way home from school. I can still remember walking next to a vacant lot between our house and the Larsens’; it was all lion-colored dried grass, a nice big mighty zero with plenty of space to hold my intense little-girl thoughts.

Anyway, Father Huntington, tall and stern and white-headed and looming large a la Snow Miser in "The Year Without a Santa Claus," stopped me to tell me there was a problem with my behavior at mass.

It seems I was biting his finger in my fervor to receive the Body of Christ.

Oh, groan. Even now I cringe for my younger self, and how completely embarrassed I felt at the time. I had an eating problem as it was, getting up at 5 a.m. to stuff my face with miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups out of the freezer, so I somehow tied that intense, insatiable, shameful hunger—for what?! Oh, so much!—to my priest-biting tendencies. I mean, it’s gotta be bad when the communion host is viewed as an hors d'oeuvres. We then practiced the receiving of communion multiple times, right there on the street, until I could successfully slide my tongue back into my mouth without grinding my teeth together like some sort of rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth creature.

Ha ha now, but then--not so much. I went home crying, this strange mix of shame and excitement that someone paid attention to me, and told my parents. They thought it was funny, but what do you expect? The last 4 digits of our phone number made the sign of the cross, for chrissake. (Oops. Sorry.) I hope we’ve made up since, but I really felt like I’d fallen out of favor with Jesus & co. Transubstantiation? More like a lil’ snack from a Catholic box of Rice Chex. I know, I know, that’s not funny. My 7-year-old self just couldn’t fully fathom that level of miracle/mystery.

Fear biter? I don’t know, but it’s funny how the sacred and profane are always meeting up. It’s like if you don’t invite them both to the party, whoever didn’t get the invite is gonna crash it anyway. Like I recently found this completely ridonkulous poem I wrote oh so long ago (musta been circa 1995 per the title), and it’s sort of a strange but fitting running mate for my communion story… I don’t think I’ve showed it to anyone before, so please go easy on me. (I have no idea what prompted it, but boy, I must have been PMS or just read The Handmaid’s Tale!) Go ahead and laugh—I promise I won’t bite ; )


i am sick.
i swim in
the dizzy bright white of nausea,
catch a breath and vomit
gallons of sperm.
every last drop
swallowed by the whole of womankind,
now i know why smart girls spit:
it’s hard on
the stomach.
so, yes i drool and
sigh as it inches down a thigh,
wormsquirming past my knee only
to stall at a phlegmcrawl, stuck in unshaved traffic.
oh and at the time i meant to scream
but all i got was a mouthful.
next time will be different:
one false move and off with his head

Brian on the above song, the vocals for which were recorded in 1966: "I was sitting at my piano thinkin' about holy music. I poked around for some simple but moving chords. The boys were overtaken by the arrangement. I taught it to them in sections, the way I usually do. The purity of the blending of the voices made the listeners feel spiritual. I was definitely into rock church music."

No post on the sacred/profane is complete w/o a Prince song. I know, I should have gone for the cheap thrill and featured "Head," but that's just so obvious, isn't it? You can always find it on YouTube and read the comment from the poor guy who sang it, when he was 8 and didn't know what the lyrics meant, at his grandfather's birthday party.

Second time I'm using this song in a blog. Who's gonna complain?


  1. "it’s funny how the sacred and profane are always meeting up. It’s like if you don’t invite them both to the party, whoever didn’t get the invite is gonna crash it anyway" I LURVE this.

  2. Now this is a blog I can really sink my teeth into! Thank you for honoring Prince, too. : )