Sent off to boarding school at twelve, with a pair of oxfords, a pair of patents, my sterling silver christening rosary and two dozen name tags stitched like drops of blood onto the collars of starched blouses, I stare down the hall, long and dim, slippery from too many waxings. Plaster statues of the holy family live here, in cave-like niches, the Blessed Virgin, her face soft and chalky, cheeks powdered pink. Everything about her is pliable; she is to be our model. Joseph is nondescript, covered by a long brown robe. The baby sleeps. I eye the nuns, black and fluttery, and my parents, in wool, with fur collars, giddy with their new freedom. I unpack my suitcase and survey the territory. One iron bed, one chest of drawers, one slender closet. A crucifix pierces the white wall. A dark trunk opens its jaws to swallow my life.