Altar Server

The once-pudgy middle schooler has
discovered that pastors know better
than to leave the whole jug of wine

in the sacristy cupboard, that only
the small, exactly full cruet awaits, no
viable temptation at all. He’s imagined

meeting new friends, girls, in this
newly gender-blinded affair, but they
are competition for the most coveted

slot, bell-jingler during Mass, left acolyte.
These better prospects sit with their
parents, pious in pews, faintly swollen

classmates in light sweaters, with hair
that might smell nice to a bolder boy’s
nose, faces turned away. As time’s

tamed fangs trickle into a vial, one dull
drop per holy moment dutifully spent,
he feels the coils in his legs tighten; he

kneels and stands and kneels and too-
briefly sits and kneels and sings and
waits for an hour’s Purgatory to fall.