The world is green, grass in full fall five o’clock shadow, and I stand in the middle of it. My hands cradle two pecans. There are more barely hidden in the verdant whiskers. Nearby, I may have a pile of them or a bowl full. Now, I have only the two—perfect brown ellipses flecked with black. The nuts warm quickly in my touch, the dust of their abandoned husks bitter and drying as alum. I hold the pecans. We are poetry, a song of praise. This is my first conscious memory.

I am two years old.

And I am sacred.


The priest who guided me through catechism, old wotshisname with kebab skewer eyes, liked to remind me that since I was born immediately after all the saints had scoured the earth of Satan’s minions, I had a special duty to be a vessel of purity for the sake of All Souls my every birthday.  Right.  If you shake young Catholics they tumble into two bins.  One for those who ask questions, and one for those who don’t.  I was definitely in the former category, which ensured a pretty short expiry date on the grace of my soul.  I remember wondering “whose crazy idea was it to put me in charge of the whitewash kingdom on my birthday?”  As long as I can remember, what I’ve wanted most for my birthday has been serenity.  Serenity and purity sure as hell don’t go together.  At least not in the Catholic conception of purity.