By Charlie Brice
For Sam Slough
Three hundred pounds if she was an ounce,
Sister Hendrik moved like a battleship.
Her black veil barely concealed turrets
for battleship guns, her white Dominican habit
bow and stern of a Wyoming icebreaker.
The USS Sister Hendrik navigated the high tide
of a ferocious food fight in St. Mary’s High
School Cafeteria during my senior year.
That day in 1968, the cafeteria ladies served
pigs-in-a-blanket, tiny wieners baked into delicious
homemade buns that became gooey ketchup-coated
missiles that flew through the desanctified air
of our lunchroom and splattered their targets
with the most famous of Heinz’s 57 varieties.
After a while kids threw whatever they could grab.
The atmosphere blossomed with oranges, sauerkraut,
tortillas, green beans and banana peels.
The most human of our wardens, Sister Hendrik
was the only nun who would swear:
“You asses,” she foghorned and began
her momentous voyage toward our table
where we condiment-soaked seniors continued
to hurl our godforsaken bounty. Before
she got to us, a blanketed pig blotched
across her forehead like a bucket of bloody
chum left over from baiting sharks.
Ketchup dripped into her eye sockets
blinding her to a banana peel upon which
she promptly slipped—something I thought
only happened in cartoons. Surely
the Richter Scale registered her fall,
one detail discussed during hours
of detention as we swabbed floors,
cleaned cafeteria tables and sang,
“Anchors away, my boys,
Charlie Brice is a retired psychoanalyst living in Pittsburgh. He has authored two full length poetry collections: Flashcuts Out of Chaos (WordTech Editions, 2016) and Mnemosyne's Hand (WordTech Editions, 2018). His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Hawaii Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, The Dunes Review, SLAB, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Sport Literate, The Paterson Literary Review, Plainsong, and elsewhere.