The color in the room was yellow.
I don’t know if I knew then why,
or that yellow is as much the color of nerves
as it is of cowardice, as I stood stiff-straight
in front of Father Panda and examined his face.
It was wide, porous, ruddy, full as a moon beneath
a wave of curly hair the color of the pews.
We both wore white, he in his vestments,
me in my dress, all decked out
with the things I knew I must have done wrong.
From the vestibule, the smell of incense wafted in.
Outside the room I could hear the sound of children
trying hard to be quiet. A bit of holy water
splashed from someone’s finger to his forehead.
I was bad. I was definitely bad. I thought. The bell
tolled. Father Panda’s wide face split into a smile.
I amused him with my silence. I was not a sinner,
after all — was it possible? No. I gulped, stammered,
dug in: “I can’t think of anything.” That was the sin.