We were friends 

who wore serge uniforms 

starched white collars 

oxfords and hose.      

We walked in silence 

from classroom to chapel

single file 

orderly as notebooks 

tabbed for 

geometry poetry 

and Aquinas

practicing etiquette

on salmon croquettes

at noon


Latin verbs

with smooth pink lips.

Behind glass doors

on library shelves

Teresa of Avila

shouldered Byron

and the Summa lay open

on a sewing table

in the next room.

We were a fortress

guarded by angels.

Their sharp-tipped 

metal spears

fenced the narrow oval

where we walked

to say the rosary in May

with black-robed women

who dressed their souls


in gorgeous clothes

only God could see.

They didn't know

what romance lay

in the way

they smoothed their veils

like long black hair

when they knelt to pray.

All our teachers

were not nuns.

There was one

whose perfume

lingered in the hall

White Shoulders.



a cloister.

Senior year

dancing through

a sea of music

in the gym

every curl in place

holding ourselves

a bit stiffly


Old Spice

humming "Blue Moon"

across the room

I saw you

taking off your shoes

thin shoulder straps

slipping down your arm.

A boy with Italian hair

stuck the sandals

in his pockets.

On the balcony

watching you


Sister Catherine



the nets she tore

on her mad swim

to God.

amo  amas  amat

We who spoke the language

of nuns and angels

wore our innocence

like flowers

smiling at each other

across the dance floor


believing life would keep

all its promises.

My friend, have you wakened

in a green place?

Do you still dance barefoot?


My work reflects growing up Catholic.

ACADEMY GIRLS is about my high school years at Loretto Academy in Chicago.