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The Color of Gabriel’s Wings
“I see a myriad of angels,
festive all, with wings unfurled,
each one distinct in brightness … ”
--Dante, Paradiso, canto 31

only one angel here
distinctly bright,
in Fra Angelico’s

Gabriel the messenger,
come for acquiescence,
of the young woman
deep in thought --

how still she sits,
demurely drab
in olive mantle,
all secrets secure
and tethered,
hands at rest,
nesting in her lap,
how enrapt,
praying perhaps,
or planning the evening meal,
or savoring with artist’s eye
the slant of spring light
upon the tiled floor

Gabriel the festive,
come to shatter the sweet ordinary
in haloed golden ringlets
and satin gown of flamingo pink,
his fan of wings unfurled
in span enough to shade
two rolling fields
with stream between,
feathers shingled upon feathers
in divinely ordered riot
of scarlet and turquoise,
gold, and palest silvery beige,
bordered in a symmetry
of little eyes --

with steady eye
she appraises
the resplendent alien
flowing with molten beauty
and knows he is not
from the village

Gabriel the diplomat,
come talking smooth
to present the case,
quivering his wings
like a Painted Lady
intent upon her thistle,
as he asks, politely,
as if he came to borrow a book,
“May we have the rest of your life” --

she answers swift,
the unequivocal Yes!
of the poet who
would magnify
her Lord,
pleased that her passion
mirrors the wild magnificence
of the emissary’s wings

-- Ethel Pochocki
Brooks, Maine

Something Grows Green …
Something grows green
In all the young leaves … and
In all the grass and in the sprouting seedlings --
Everywhere --

It explodes … this “something” --
Bursting into fireworks
Of yellow, pink, purple and white
All over the trees, the bushes and plants --

Something grows green in me -- too --
New -- fresh -- expanding --
Promising -- more than I can imagine!
Is the bud frightened, I wonder --
To feel itself, splitting open --
into pinky white?

Can it ever know -- ahead of time --
That the tiny hard fruit within its flower
Will become an apple, with seeds that sprout
And grow into trees -- with exploding blossoms …
And that the rupture -- was worth the pain?

Something grows green in me -- too --
Ex-pan-ding --

-- Inge Hardison
New York

Sandwiched between flannel sheets
All parts of body equally held
Muscles relax

Unknowingly I slip
into the theater of the deep
Events, people, places
kaleidoscope through the night

I awaken

-- Sr. Rosemary Schmid, S.C.

For Us All
I couldn’t figure out
How to avoid war,
So I did the dishes.

I couldn’t fathom
How to convert a terrorist to peace,
So I took out the trash.

I couldn’t imagine
The depths of a victim’s suffering,
So I prayed …

For the victims,
For the terrorists,
For peace,
For us all.

-- Mary Hogan
Raleigh, N.C.

The Right Reverend Stranger
If I believe
Who I receive
at aisle’s end
is both my Saviour
and my friend
then I’ll treat
the stranger
in the street
as I do
the priest
who hands
the Eucharist
to me.

-- Tom Furlong
Denville, N.J.

Lent 2003
What I need this Lent, God,
is a new heart:
unable to reject anyone;

split wide

letting in those
who need me
in their search,

who will find You
only if I have room for them.

-- Sr. Eileen Haugh, OSF
Eyota, Minn.

For All AIDS Workers
I reached into the fire this morning
only noticing later the burn
paining the fingers I used
to adjust a log to force the blaze.

I thought of Damien, the leper priest
scalding his feet and not feeling
the pain, but knowing the meaning
of what he saw:

To continue walking through the fire
burning his soles as never before
serving those he’d chosen to live among.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Main

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, March 28, 2003