“Sister Joanna Washes the Floor” A Poem by Mary Rose O’Reilley

Long after hours I slog
from scrubbing the bishop’s kitchen
A crack of light from the dining room

cuts the floor
and I dutifully check for bandits —
it’s only himself, the rector,

the bishop’s lawyer, and Father O’Toole.
Roman collars and ties loose,
Jack Daniel’s making his rounds

though not to excess.
The cards catch my eye —
a deck worn soft

at the margins of mystery:
queens, kings, tricksters with all
the old glamour worn down to a blur

tamed and laid on the table.
I set down my slop bucket hard
and they jump. My suds

slosh on the tile. “It’s Sister –”
the rector reminds them,
folding his hand.

He never remembers my name.
“You could slip on that floor,”
I say mildly. “I’ll go for the mop.”

It stands out under the moon.
Each frond frozen, the hair
of a virgin who’s dead.

Above  her the litter of stars,
a tarot of possibility
over my head.

-From Mary Rose O’Reilley’s collection of poems titled HALF WILD

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