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It is the sort of gray,
raw February day
when you know
in your bones
that the fine, cold rain
will turn to snow,
that April’s flowers
are still a long way off.

Once, on such a day,
walking home from work,
I heard great twittering
and, looking up, saw
bare arms of a ginko tree
adorned with robins,
the jewelry of hope.

-- Bonnie Thurston
Wheeling, W.V.

Celestial Favor
last night,
I asked God
for an answer,
a sign of approval
that my step was sure,
my intent pure,
anything would do,
I said

this morning,
there is a chicken
at the winter feeder
on the railing of the deck,
a plump white chicken
of dazed demeanor,
holding her own
amidst the jays
and mourning doves
squabbling and feasting
in the twelve-below freeze

what farm is missing her,
I wonder,
what providence blew her here?

she roosts atop the feeder
like a feathered weathervane,
cocks her head at me
as I stare in disbelief,
“You called?” she asks

I know God sends
the portents we crave
in our neediness,
each with meaning
for the one disposed --
a flurry of doves,
the whisper of an angel,
bedside visits from the Little Flower
or St. Anthony, glowing in the dark,
God himself,
to a holy few

to me he sends a chicken,
a befuddled chicken,
who, like me, suffers
a deficiency of direction.
I deduce I am dealing
with a prankster.

-- Ethel Pochocki
Brooks, Maine

Welcoming the Dark
Bedroom window sunset:
a biblical glow, yellow rays
like the fingers of God
poking holes in the hills,
filling them with liquid gold.

I run for the camera.
Over my shoulder, yellows
metamorphose into rush-ahead pinks.
No film.

In a drawer, earthbound fingers
dredge through underwear and jewels
for a small black cartridge
to buzz and spin in the camera
like a bluebottle trapped in a window.

Light dims my dash around the corner,
flings my fired feet over the wooden stile.
I feel for the camera,
then lift my head, defeated, in the dark,
meet the eyes of a muscled brown mare
telling me to be still and watch
the horizon self-destruct
under a blood-mottled moon.

-- Donna Pucciani
Wheaton, Ill.

Visiting My Brother
In deceptive calm,
through milky Plexiglas,
a taut line of fear connects us.
And separates us.

No one knows
the day and hour
of his death.

This blessed ignorance,
God’s greatest mercy,
all creatures but the condemned enjoy.

For one man
to take it from another
is sacrilege.

-- Dale Wisely
Birmingham, Ala.

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, February 7, 2003