Nowhere in the house could you find more bodies, all of them breakable: porcelain angels, Virgins and saints, British Lords and Ladies dressed for a ball, the lambs and cows of a nativity set. Lined up on cedar shelves behind a shut door, what could they see in the dark? Heavenly visions of gilded, crenulated clouds perhaps? So we imagined when we were young and fearful of touching our mother's china figurines. In that closet we'd sometimes sit on the floor, crisscross-applesauce, and play truth-or-dare in whispers.
The dare we'd meet our maker for: French kissing the plaster Mother of God in the dark corner. You had to do it with the tongue-that's what made it French, one of us knew. The Virgin tasted like church-holy water and incense trapped in the priest's gowns. She had no tongue, could not speak, and once our kisses came to giggles so raucous the closet door flung open and there stood Mother. "Out, out, all of you," waving her arms in a hurry to slap our rears.
She banished us from the house. On a patch of asphalt, under a gray sky, we all shivered, coatless. Our home—locked, sanctified—refused to open to our knocks. Had we foraged the yard for food, we would have found a fruitless apple tree. We waited for the sun to sink, the moon to rise. Mother let the snow fall on our shoulders. Our bodies froze to porcelain and we stood, motionless, obedient at last, under stars, awaiting blessings.