Penance for a Mortal Sin

7 Apr

by Nancy Scott

I chipped a top front tooth

two weeks before my First Communion.

I ran, said something open-mouthed,

mad and loud and smacked

the back of the aluminum chair.


I was a short seven,

often hitting the world with my head,

wanting excitement of air,

not able to see and dodge.


In the swallowed bits, I sensed

I’d sinned against God who wanted

smiling, Holy, whole

First Communion children,

blindness not counting

because He chose that.


Worse, I’d sinned against my mother

whose third commandant

after “study hard”

and “eat everything on your plate”

was “don’t run.”


I cried, afraid

they’d cancel Communion.

They filed the tooth,

said it would fall out

someday and I would be given

a second chance if

I didn’t run or open

my mouth too wide.

For the next two weeks, I didn’t.

Nancy Scott’s over 650 essays and poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She has a new chapbook, The Almost Abecedarian (on Amazon), and won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Braille Forum, Disabilities Studies Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, and Wordgathering.


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