My Irish Catholic father fell away from faith.
By the time I could understand language
he had stopped talking much
and he never told the stories of Noah’s Ark,
Moses, Water into Wine, or the Resurrection.
Certainly, he never spoke of God at all.
Still, he shuffled seven unruly children
and an unconciliatory wife
into an echoing cavity of stained glass
and candles each Sunday
dressed in a shoddy blue mailman uniform
which he wore everywhere, like an old wound.
He would stay for the service but hunched
mutely at the end of our pew, his attention
continents away. I know there was a time
when my father received the Body of Christ
but I never witnessed that, never heard him sing
or give praise to anyone, never felt warmth
in his silent handshake of peace.

One Sunday though, when the pastor’s
sermon included a series of jokes
about slow moving letter carriers, lost mail,
and the lackadaisical postal system

my father actually stood,

shook his fist in the air and almost sobbed
that he was fed up with being cast the butt
of jokes by the high-minded.
Everyone shrunk back but he carried on
pontificating until the pastor called him Michael
and apologized so he would finally
sit down. From then on my father
cloistered himself in the car during mass
reading Nietzsche
and plotting a revenge.

© Liz Walsh-Boyd, 1995

Liz Walsh-Boyd, a social service worker, is published or forthcoming in Arnazella, Bellowing Ark, The Panhandler, and Waterways. She studies poetry at the University of Washington Extension Program.