Nick Ripatrazone
Holy Family
Built 1915.
Three black-necked sparrows burrowed in the eaves.  Nest of thistle, crabgrass, root.  A third-year brother, Alan, set a ladder on the north side of the church.  The babies had flapped and flown, gone.  The mother nestled in a willow on the south slope of the property.  Alan had spoken to his own mother that morning and, after customary talk, had let his guard down during some first grade nostalgia (his teacher, a Mrs. Downey, had just died, her name second from last in the bulletin).  He said he was going to the roof.  His mother read verbatim from the farmer’s almanac, warning equal parts rain and wind.  He promised to wait until the weekend but knew his plans would not change.  He knew a empty nest would soon be occupied and another band of sparrows would pilt droppings along the sidewalks, the handrail.  Woods extended for miles on the north hill but the birds demanded to live here.  Brother Alan settled the ladder and put on his gloves.  Father Nolan stepped out from under the door, coffee in hand.  He looked up at the clouds, then at Alan, and said we all take chances in life.