I soon became good friends
with Mary Elizabeth.
I laughed at her freckles. I loved her red hair.
I liked how she talked to the teachers so easy,
Convinced all the boys that she walked upon air.
I took an apartment with Mary
Second semester at Saint Thomas Moore.
Her parents so nervous because of the neighborhood,
Brought an enormous new lock for the door.
And nights there was Dylan,
the Beatles and Beethoven.
Sweet marijuana smoke hung in the air.
We would talk of the things we no longer believed in,
And of what we would do, and of what we'd not dare,
And oh how we cherished our
We'd both been the victims of terrible nuns,
Whose discipline struck with the sharp love of Jesus,
For the length of a skirt or an unholy tongue.
I loved the apartment and Mary
We did everything and we went everywhere.
And walking back home late at night in our neighborhood,
Never a stranger and never a care.
When Mary Elizabeth made love
They'd met at the game at the end of the year.
Afraid that she soon would be drifting away,
I feigned and I fought back an envious tear.
Then Mary Elizabeth made love
Under the crucifix over her bed.
I know that she did 'cause she begged me to promise,
Never to whisper a word that she'd said.
Then something was troubling
A lump in her throat as her dinner grew cold.
Too frightened to ask for the fear of the answer.
That something was late because something took hold
Then Mary Elizabeth borrowed
She'd just started school and she would not be wed.
She learned of a man who helped women in trouble.
She wished it were different and she wished she were dead.
I walked a dark hallway with
We looked for the number and climbed up the stairs.
Let go of her hand when the man she'd be going with,
Counted our money and showed me a chair.
But Mary Elizabeth couldn't
go through with it.
She took my hand as I followed outside.
She told of her fear of the knife or the wire.
And all the way home in confusion we cried.
The very next day I found Mary
Red on the porcelain, red everywhere.
She died from a needle she'd read that they do it with,
Knitting the purls of her hopeless despair.
Once I believed I saw Mary
Under the leaves of our favorite tree.
So sadly deceived without Mary Elizabeth,
With only the eyes of a stranger on me.
And at the reunion no Mary
Only sad rumors and whispers of shame.
I do not take communion since Mary Elizabeth,
But I still light a candle and whisper her name.
© 1981 by J. Heukerott.