Sestina for a Lost Vocation
From Sister Theresa it seemed worthy
of consideration. A vocation
to the priesthood, serving Jesus, the church.
To what more could a Catholic boy aspire,
when you think about it. But how do you know?
I asked Sister when we had our talks. Prayer,
she responded with the hint of a grin. Prayer,
and a nudge from God. Her God was worthy
of a joke like that, as if one could know
Him as the cool uncle, and a vocation
was like any dream a boy would aspire
to—shortstop, meeting a girl at the church
dance. But another God hides in the church,
one I feared, the God of inquisitors, prayer
on their lips. At that time, I aspired
to stand up for a ruthless truth worthy
of youth and other zealots, a vocation
in itself. Because if what we don’t know
can surely kill us, then what we do know
can only make us stronger, something the church
never quite ascribes to, its vocation
the unholy fear that we haven’t a prayer
in hell on our own, that we’re unworthy
of just about everything. If you aspire
to anything beyond that, you conspire
with Satan—not so much the devil you know
as anything that smacks of a worthy
attempt at thinking things through. The church
holds God for ransom—our eternal souls. Prayer
turns superstition. So a vocation
to what? I had to ask. A vocation
to her, is what she couldn’t say. To aspire
to please her, to bathe in the light of her prayer,
her dream of a boy she could never know
fully, her ardor displaced to the church.
Too far gone? Is this no longer worthy?
If you have a vocation, you will know,
but what she meant was, aspire to the church,
and my prayer for you will be made worthy.
An editor, writer, and poet, Charles Grosel lives in Arizona. He has published stories in Western Humanities Review, Red Cedar Review, Water-Stone, and The MacGuffin as well as poems in Slate, The Threepenny Review, Poet Lore, and Harpur Palate, among others. To pay the bills, Charles owns the communications firm, Write for Success.