What if Everybody Got Gold Stars?
Along the top of the headboard of my childhood bed,
the bed frame found at the end of a dead-end street in Troy,
of which there happen to be many,
I stuck stars, stolen from a Catholic grade school on 13th Street,
a two block walk each morning during the school year to learn about Jesus,
each star taken from a teacher’s desk after school,
after everyone had left for the day, no one thinking to lock any classroom door,
passageway into the school through the open, connected church, where I lit candles
in red votives without paying and carved my initials in the third last pew from the back,
all the teacher’s desk drawers having little square boxes of mixed stars,
there for the taking — green stars, blue stars, red stars, silver stars,
the taste of the glue on the back of the stars addictive, the urge to take, compulsive.
I loved the gold stars best, the ones that never found their way
to the top of my school papers. I found a way, it was so easy, more than I can say
for any of the nuns who doled out the stars to their favorites, their pets, their angels,
each nun always dressed in a black robe and a stiff, white apron, looking like an army of penguins
as they made their way to school from the 12th Street convent each morning,
long rosary beads hanging from their waists, reminding me of chains,
nuns whose names all started the same way. I still remember their names:
Sister Mary Lemonade, Sister Mary Make-Believe, Sister Mary Merciless . . .
What did they know about gold stars?
Thomas Bonville has previously been published in Up The River, Issue Six. He was recognized with a “Commended Poem” in the 2019 Stephen A DiBiase Poetry Contest. He also was published in the February, 2019 Chronogram magazine.