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Sister Bernadette Gets Down!

By LC Van Savage

When she was young she would love to sing
She'd raise her eyes while her voice took wing.
Hands on their ears, her parents would wail,
"You can't carry a tune in a pail!"
Undaunted, she smiled and said "I must!
If I cannot sing, surely I'll bust!
I must sing every chance I get!"
This mulish child was named "Bernadette."
"No singing on Sundays," her folks said,
"For it's a grave sin! You'll be struck dead!"
"That's silly," said the child with a grin.
"God loves singing! It can't be a sin!"
"Your singing's a sin then," said her dad,
"Completely off-key! It's really bad!"
"Sorry, dear father," said she sadly,
"But God won't care if I sing badly.
For Him it's no crime if I'm off key,
To Him music's good, don't you see?
It does not always have to praise Him
All kinds of music can amaze Him."
"Well," her folks said, "Never on Sunday,
We know for a fact that that's one day
He'll smite you for sure, 'specially when
You caterwaul and squawk like a hen.
Sorry, child, if we've hurt your feelings
But your horrid songs put holes in our ceilings.
Please sing far away, maybe go to the coast!
But not on Sunday, or you'll be toast."
But Bernadette so loved music and God
She became a nun, and each day she'd plod
Off to her tasks, and sang as she went.
She sang all year from Easter through Lent.
The Sisters wept and prayed that she'd stop
The sound hurt their heads, made their ears pop.
But nothing could stop Sister Bernadette
She knew God approved her, and would let
Her sing loud, off-key, and yes, pantheistic
Even though the nuns were going ballistic.
Bernadette sang Rock, Hymns, and Blues,
And never once heard all the nuns' "Boos!"
One day the nuns bowed their cowled heads low
Toward each other and said "She must go!
She wrecks each day with that awful sound
Like roosters at dawn! A howling hound!
Let's send her to a far distant shore
And get back our silent days of yore!"
"Now Sisters," said the Reverend Mother
"We can't dump her off on some other
Innocent folks who don't know her vice
Sisters! You know that would not be nice!
Let's make a deal with our screeching nun,
Quiet her down, but let her have fun.
Let's sound-proof her room, give her a cat
Ask her to sing there, loudly and flat
As she wants to, and often and much!
And oh, dear Sisters, won't it be such
A pleasure to have quiet anew?
And Sister Bernadette will not rue
That we gave her a dear little cat
To care for and love. Now that is that!
We'll line the walls of her room with foam
From which Sister B. won't want to roam.
We'll give a big couch on which she'll sit
And sing shrilly! Perhaps even knit!
We'll give her a radio, and oh then
She can sing with it when she has a yen!
We'll make it so sound-proof, comfy, snug
She can croon loud! We won't have to plug
Our ears any more from her vile din.
But oh, I wish she thought it a sin
To sing on Sundays. We know it's not,
But we'd have sweet peace, ah! Camelot!"
All went quite well. The nuns were at peace!
They smiled a lot and now could surcease
Holding their ears from Bernadette's stir
But they still loved the nun, cared for her.
It all went badly, it's sad to say.
The Sisters were quite unnerved one day
When Sister B. came out of her room
And began singing, her voice a-boom!
"Why did you leave your room and your cat?"
Asked Reverend Mother, who thought "Oh drat!"
"I do appreciate all you did,"
Said Sister B., "And oh, God forbid
I know you'll think I am manic
But alone in a room, I simply just panic.
I've tried hard to be oh so stoic
Sorry, but I'm quite claustrophobic."
"Oh no, Oh no!" the good Sisters cried,
Six of them wept and three of them sighed.
"Dear Sisters," Sister B. smiled and said,
"I'd no idea!" and she shook her head.
"I can see how you've missed me, and Oh!
I am so touched, I just did not know.
So my dear Sisters, to show you how
Touched I am, I'm prepared to, right now
Spend every mealtime and every eve,
While you bake bread, sew, scrub and weave
Sing to you, any song you desire!
Solos! Duets! I'll bring in a choir!"
The Sisters groaned and wrinkled their brows
A couple said "We must give up our vows!
We swore we'd follow our dear Lord's word
But He'd never ask this if He heard
Sister B. sing! It's wrecking our lives!
It's almost like perpetual shrives!"
Sister B. heard them and said "Don't fret!
I don't have to sing! Did you forget?"
She ran to her room wearing a grin.
The Sisters heard her searching within.
Soon Sister Bernadette came back out
Smiled at the nuns and said with a shout,
"I'll sing no more! I'll be much kinder!"
They paled! There was a tuba behind her.

2003 LC Van Savage


Here's another of our columnists who writes in different styles. Please check out her little story in this issue also.  

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Reader Comments

Name: John I. Blair Email: blair@airmail.net
Comment: Hilarious! I wondered at the start if you could maintain the humor in such a long poem, but you came through! Like Brooks, I laughed at the end, and several times before I got there! Thanks!

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Name: Melinda Cohenour Email: mecohenour@aol.com
Comment: Absolutely DELIGHTFUL! Thank you!

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Name: Brooks Taylor Email: brooks-taylor@sbcglobal.net
Comment: A fun poem! I like it, it made me laugh.

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