Our Lady of Peace High School


Her name unfurled above us, a windtight banner
Over a barricade. We sang her praises in Glee—
But there was no statue erected to her: no votives

To her in the hallways, where we were instructed
To remain silent (one laugh out loud = one demerit)
In passing. There were flowers at the plaster feet

Of St. Philomena, though her head was covered
Later in a kind of terrorist's hood, wrapped in that
Deep annihilating habit-colored shadow—after

It was revealed she'd been a Lady of the Evening
In ancient Rome and not a Blessed Half-Canonized.
And flowers lay at the feet of St. Joseph, Holy Cuckold,

His surprised eyes popping from half-dollar-sized sockets.
We served the nuns: our leaders, our love affairs. Their
Waist-slung rosary beads threatening us with mild

Affection, the way a diplomat who wants peace, but
Knows he must hurt everyone in the name of peace,
Might threaten. But who was she? Lady of Shock

& Awe—or Lady-Victim of Shalott, adrift in
Her graffiti'd barge? Or the Skywalker atop the
Globe flattening Eve's snake under her starry feet?

Though she had no engraved plinth in the corridor,
I still hoped to glimpse her as she'd once been—
Infinitely patient, weary of explaining everything,

But beautiful. Arnaut Daniel's Lady, even Pound's—
An old bitch gone in the teeth—but a civilization
Built on her once-loveliness. Who would give up

Peace for beauty? A thousand ships, churning toward
Someone's bad idea of one or the other. Do I have to
Be beautiful, I wondered, if I want just peace, that single

Perfect note? Why can't I be Our Lady of Enough, Our
Lady of Kiss My Ass? I might have asked that question,
But I did not. I held my tongue in passing and did not inquire—

Not once in all those years of the chanted Trivium: Latin,
Ancient History, Warfare & the Unities—with her colors up on
The battlements—what was the real & lasting image of her holy name?