__________________Train up your child in the way he should go so
__________________when he is old he will not depart from it.
Startled by a tinkling altar bell
I realize the horn-rimmed communicant
dwarfed by her three gangly sons
is a dead ringer for Andrea Yates--
their boys would be close in age now.
I imagine Andrea struggling
to keep her boys still
as they squirm and giggle in the third pew
with Mary nesting,
a gosling by her heart. Next to them
her starched-shirt husband
eyes shut in meditation.
Then I see Paul, Luke, John
and yearned-for Mary, lying
pale as Beleek under sheets.
Eight eyes wide open.
Noah, seven, still
floats in the tub, a tuft
of Andrea’s hair clutched
in his fist. His last gasp,
I’m sorry. Andrea did it
to save their souls; they did things
God didn’t like: chewed too much taffy,
tossed Tinker Toys hither and yon, forsook naps.
Her nails encrusted with their jellied flesh,
she felt at once a wicked mother
and the sweet relief of a fabulous
relay back-stroker who passes
the baton to a mate without looking.