Blessing the Animals

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Blessing the Animals by R.A. Villanueva

We have gathered up animals on this feast of St. Francis
to be blessed. In a parking lot beside the church, cleared
save for bales of hay and traffic horses, the goats

and llamas from the petting zoo a town over
are chewing at their cords, the camels' necks hung
with scapulae. The Elks and Legion men have leashed

border collies to terriers, will garland parakeets with rosaries.
They hold house cats in their arms. Our Monsignor crosses
himself in front of a statue of Jesus and His Most Sacred

Heart, beside the flagpole where I learned to pledge allegiance,
where I will later fold the stars and stripes into triangles
to lock up in the headmaster's desk. Next month, on my dare,

Howie will throw a bottle of Wite-Out at Christ's face, break-
off every finger on the Lord's right hand except his third.