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Like A Tree

May I make of my life a prayer,
wearing my years like a tree;
its flocks of leaves singing
their tender vibratos,
its gaunt limbs pouring
blue rivers of shadow
over snow. May I honor
the wounds inscribed
on my body. During times
of drought may I plumb
the holy water of rain
in my heart.

-- Marguerite Bouvard
Wellesley, Mass.


There’s a certain feeling found

in the let go
slide low
touch bottom
deep pool
all around sound
of blues;

in loose-jawed
long-neck guitars
up heavenward.

The Got-Nobody Woes
World-on-my Back track
and Three-Pennies blues.

-- Sr. Kimberly M. King, RSCJ
Grand Coteau, La.

A Good Hour

After playing a good hour,
easing the audience
into the place we share with God,
the leader, years of hard road on his face,
put his horn down, stepped to the mike,
and spoke for the first time.

Instead of How y’all doin’ tonight? or
It’s good to be back in Memphis,
he let enough silence pass
to make everyone squirm a bit
before saying, in the voice
of a grandfather soothing
the grandbabies,

Everything is gonna be all right.
We’re gonna make it, God willing.
Just barely, I think.
But we’re gonna make it

-- Dale Wisely
Birmingham, Ala.

The Moment of Decision

Maiden Teresa West,
my eighth grade teacher,
six foot one,
jaw assertive,
resolute of step,
eyes without eyelids,
is said to have
smiled once
(her first student,
Julius Caesar),

towering down
the aisle of desks,
caught me passing
lovely notes
to lovely Mildred,

the superintendent’s daughter,
who had opal eyes
only for Kermit Fadness
(farmer hulk
of wavy hair).

Defeated in love,
disgraced before the school,
banished to the Alcatraz
of the nearest cloakroom.
I will be a monk.

-- Fr. Kilian McDonnell, OSB
Collegeville, Minn.


Any war is uncivil --
Cain taking Abel
to the field, letting blood
from the neck of his brother,
neighbor, spew onto the land.

Flanders’ poppies,
and the crosses of Petersburg
are small reminders
of what we make of those meadows --
hell out of heaven.

-- Anne Heutte

2003 in Poetry

2002 in Poetry

2001 in Poetry

2000 in Poetry

1999 in Poetry

Poems should be previously unpublished and limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed. Please send poems to NCR POETRY, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City MO 64111-1203. Or via e-mail to poetry@natcath.org or fax (816) 968-2280. Please include your street address, city, state, zip and daytime telephone number. NCR offers a small payment for poems we publish, so please include your Social Security number.

National Catholic Reporter, January 24, 2003