When you’re a poor kid with foreign parents everything
is a wall and you grow up with a keen sense of where you
belong and what belongs to you even when there are no sidewalks
on the perimeter even when the wall is gray and hard and high
with no invitation yet still you imagine fanciful things.
My friend Angie lived near the motherhouse on a state street
and we ran the Mississippi by Broadway where she thought she had
an older boyfriend – this was in the 80’s and folks were fleeing city politics
for better gated communities and more walls and suddenly
south city was all mine and I defiantly kept it.
And little was left behind but parishes and structure to pull us in
such fearsome Catholic entities yet protective and in awe I felt
ownership and pride in their architecture and it was something better
than nothing but though I walked along the walls I never dared
climb over like a thief to explore the inside of the compound.
In one generation we leap the social boundaries because we can
in America and in half a lifetime I was welcomed into the walls to see
what was there and it was not fearsome or crumbling but bright and preserved
it was less cloaked it was reaching out into its beaten neighborhood and
its people padded quietly and reverently though their treasure.
When I was young I never heard the bells ringing and I never saw
the gardens looping over the walls or the polished wood floors but it was
all there waiting like a sentinel and the patience of ages while others fled
for plastic for quick fixes for escape and I was left behind to navigate
through stone and barriers and then back home.
(“Carondelet Motherhouse.” Connections Magazine 2011, Fall/Winter, Page 11. Print. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet: St. Louis.)