BS

By Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo

 

Tuesdays, Dad came home reeking of dark wood

and cigarettes from Grant’s Bar. He and three other priests

shared a back booth, anonymity, the city’s west edge.

After, he’d drive back through the snow, smoke settled

into his suede bomber jacket and thin black shirt,

into even his breast pocket: the tiny black book

I was never to look in. His appointments

were private. Home, the garage rattling shut

under me and my mother, he tossed it on the counter

with his keys, his collar skittering away.

I saw it fall open. I scanned the whole week

while he and my mother said whatever they said.

Names and times, a few abbreviations.

On today, a scrawled smudge: BS.

Forgetting I shouldn’t, I said, what’s this?

I knew he had just been to Grant’s.

He glanced over, closed it and smiled.

Bible Study, he said. He pushed the book away

down the counter.  It slid into the collar’s

white curve of blunt teeth.

 

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