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The prayers for which no words will come
When tides of love have left me dumb --
Lord, God, in their stead accept
Unwilled vigils -- willingly kept.

-- Sr. Janet Benish, OCV
Kent, Wash.

The shattered rose?
She prayed for the wind
and was heard.

-- Sr. Janet Benish, OCV
Kent, Wash.

When tight wires in crazy criss-cross
Needle through the brain
Spiritual powers can scarcely resist
Centripetal force of pain.

-- Sr. Janet Benish, OCV
Kent, Wash.

Ark Animals

How orderly the animals embark
As, two-by-two, they file aboard the ark.
In alphabetic order they advance
So aardvarks won’t consume the trailing ants
Or lions try devouring the zebras --
So they will all survive to meet the Hebras.

-- Bob McKenty
Matawan, N.J.

Dada, Abba

Between the long stretches of routine
comes this brief, graced moment with you.
I watch you totter bowlegged
down the gravel path to the barn
looking like an old man
unsure of his footing
and creaking in the bones.
But, you, my son,
have made your way
just a few days into this upright world.

Your monkey-like body
saunters off so unaware,
so unafraid
to discover the world.
I once lived
close to the ground
like you but have lost the ability to
immerse myself
so completely in amazements.

You turn and look at me
when I call your name
and confirm for this moment --
only this moment --
my place in the world:
I feel like God,
or how I wish God could be,
and see myself in you
turning for assurance
across the distance:

I am here, my son --
I see you,
now I walk beside you
and hold your hand

and we go and touch
the soft, whiskery noses of horses.

-- Kevin Anderson
Monclova, Ohio

Saturday Morning

Aged Fontinella, imported from Italy,
Meats loaded with nitrites
For preservation in sausage skins
Wrapped thick and solid under glass,
And crusty loaves, silent, waiting for

A bell to jingle the deli-door open.
One pale, spotted hand clutching the door frame,
The other shaking on his cane,
He shuffles himself by inches
Toward the checkered tablecloth,

Eases into a wooden chair,
Until no longer dizzy. The grayness passes;
He stands, looks, fingers cellophaned pasta.
A wizened voice orders Genoa salami.
His color returns as he approaches the cash register,

Pulls the brown leather wallet from his pocket,
And begins the serious, tedious business
Of counting out bills.
He sits again, facing the bulging brown bag
On the table next to his expresso,
And clinking the small steaming cup from its saucer,
Sips dignity.

-- Donna Pucciani
Wheaton, Ill.

National Catholic Reporter, February 19, 1999