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Try as I might
I cannot remember his face,
this Jesuit, a scholar
more at ease with manuscripts than marriages,
nervous as we on that overcast November day.

The Bronx, twenty-five years ago,
the sacristy of Fordham University chapel:
he vested and, cigarette shaking,
rehearsed in his head the vows
scrawled on a wrinkled paper
to be trembled into a sacrament.

Years later in England,
the three of us met for pub food and a pint.
His research on Newman shuttled him
between Birmingham and Freiburg,
riding the train of bureaucracy
from “Blessed” to “Saint,”
awaiting the necessary miracles.

Did a dead Cardinal work this small miracle,
gathering together in the yoke of years
a professor-priest and two students
from a New York ghetto
“amid the encircling gloom”?

Last January, a gentle German Jesuit
took time to answer
our unopened Christmas card.
“Lead, kindly light,”
as Blehl himself had led us
into the unknown two decades ago.

His face was thin, as I recall,
above his Roman collar,
his shoulders narrow.
The night is dark,
and he is now at home.

--Donna Pucciani
Wheaton, Ill.

On Being Welcomed

Years of practice at being a guest
has heightened my awareness
of welcome or its absence.
Tonight I’m slightly afraid
of what reception awaits.

I am going into the Mojave Desert
at 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2002.
Arriving at the highway boundary line
of the Nevada Test Site is familiar;
the organizers have a small campfire going.
The temperature is in the low 30s
and Brother Wind is gentle, almost absent;
hopeful signs but I’ve had hard lessons
of indifference from this desert.

I want to hear the silence of the desert
and wander out into the dark.
Sister Moon is on the sunny side of Earth
so the stars have the sky to themselves.
Their beauty is startling but the
Milky Way, our home galaxy,
puts all else in the background.
And then she very quietly, very lovingly,
floods WELCOME over me.

--Art Casey
San Diego


Fecund God
of small things, God --
the seed-of-the-grass God
the whole field, God

of all, be praised.
God unlimited
by shape, yet limiting
for our sakes
be praised,

accustomed as you are to swinging through
arcs of universes
alone and seeking
with and leaving
always in motion, always desiring
communion together
and yet alone:
Who can announce you
revere you, detect you
knows you
the fecund twinkle
in a human eye.

--Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Second Antiphon in the Style of Hildegard

O You who squeeze the wind
until she howls,
who wring the rain until
she gushes,
send electric waves
rushing through the cord
to jolt the vacuum cleaner
to roaring life,
I praise your power
moving in the homeliest of things.
Roses on couch cushions,
Lamp stands, small city gardens,
bath water slipping down the drain,
steel wool scouring egg crust off the iron frying pan.

--Sr. Anne Higgins, DC
Emmitsburg, Md.

2003 in Poetry

2002 in Poetry

2001 in Poetry

2000 in Poetry

1999 in Poetry

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National Catholic Reporter, February 21, 2003