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Oblivious to adult chatter over his head,
ice cream halfway to his mouth, he hesitates
in concern, his hand on mine
Gumma, are you lonely when I’m not here?

His innocent awakening remits
me to another table, Gramma’s old oak
stained dark, cut flowers in the vermilion vase,
blossom droplets flecking the yellowed lace doily
haphazardly centered,
an island of welcome, of age-spotted hands
on my hair and blackberry cobbler on my spoon
and the laughing grownups talking nonsense
and my surge of pity
What do they do when we’re not here?

So this is where it went, that circling love,
not away with them, lost to their deep cave, but
hibernating in the family heart awaiting his spring
Oh yes, I miss you when you’re gone.

-- Antoinette Bolling Lutter
Tucson, Ariz.


It sounded like the end.
Next case.
But the woman had his number.
She caught his rebuff between her teeth,
borrowed his metaphor, and sailed it back:
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs.”
Jesus was impressed.
Such wit deserved more than disappointment;
such doggedness more than a denial.
So he revised his answer,
giving the anecdote a happy ending.
Don’t be so fainthearted, he’d later say.
If you have serious faith, spar with me.
You’ll get more than crumbs.

-- Sr. Pat Schnapp, RSM
Adrian, Mich.


He tells me about the death of his grandmother,
And he weeps.
Then he asks me about the death of my son,
And how can I stand it?

I tell him about how your love is still in our hearts,
How your goodness unites your friends in a common love,
How your research goes on,
And how, because of you, the world is closer
To understanding the mysteries of the mind.

I tell him I know that God loves you,
That he will never let harm come to you,
That I know you’re all right,
And I’m okay.

But then he asks me the wrong question.

He asks me what I want for Christmas.

-- Chris Bunsey
Northfield, Ohio


Outside my room is a quiet green bush
That deals in absolutes.
Each morn it opens up
Startling blood-red blooms,
Calling bees bumbling by

And undulating hummingbirds,
Each wearing colorful working suits,
The bee in Swiss-Guard colors,
The bird in iridescence.

Exhausted, each eve it closes down,
Folding up like a walking stick its blooms,
Awaiting the morn to try again.
How long will this go on, this stalking?
Until the bees buzz by,
The bobbing hummingbird sips with perky beak
Into the nectar-bed, rubbing life-preserving
Pollen off.

I doff my hat to this silent scene,
Morn and night, a delight.
Persistence pays.
The huge red flowers
Are bowers for bird and bee
But momentarily.
Can the bush renew itself
In such simple ways?
The Lord said to Paul,
“For in weakness
Power reaches perfection.”
The burly bush
Depends on such a resurrection.

-- Br. Remigius Bullinger


“Who is God?” his teacher asked.
“God is a string bean,”
the boy replied.

Supreme Beings are hard
to come by when you’re seven.
“That’s fine,” the teacher wisely said.

No one laughed. Each one
wished secretly he had
a chance to say string bean.
What a wonderful name for God!

-- Fr. William T. Burke, S.J.
Anchorage, Alaska


Standing tall
above the June bugs in the scattered gravel,
you stoutly claimed your future.

“I will be the first woman president
in the year 2000.”

A feminist in second grade!
A millennialist in 1930!

I look back at you
with wonder, almost veneration.
You exceed my expectations.

Have I failed yours? To you,
am I a June bug rolled on its back,
feet flying unprofitably in air?

-- Margery Frisbie
Arlington Heights, Ill.

The Beads

Onyx, plastic, pearl and gold
The Beadsman a Thousand Aves told.
I tell mine when the world feels cold.
Pay him a penny, pay him a groat
The Beadsman’s Thousand Aves: rote.
I finger mine in the bottom of my coat.

Plastic, pearl, gold and jade
The Beadsman a Thousand Aves Prayed.
I pray mine most when afraid.
Pursed in leather, pocketed in cloth
I clutch mine tightest
when the plane takes off.

-- Alfred Lewis


May there be springs enough in your life
to outlast the winters
May there be guitars (and drums) enough
to lift your spirits whenever you need it
May you be gentle enough
to comfort those who are hurting
But revolutionary enough
to bring heaven to those who need it now
May there always be a leprechaun near you
to bring out laughter and dance
and the child in you
And may God always have room enough
for you in the palm of her hand

-- Thomas P. Gilsenan


Though trees are ragged, every building’s plumb.
We see the world and wish it fit our mind
The way a grapefruit’s segments fit their rind,
But quarks and toadstools only leave me dumb.
The word I most desire will never come.

Tell me why earth should intersect with hay.
And what have oaks to do with apple trees,
Or cactus blossoms with the needful bees?
Does thinking know, or does it only play?
The phrase I want to say I never say.

The best the world contains is so remote,
My hands fit nothing and my lips are dry.
I take two breaths, then on the third I die.
We’re most precise at what our words connote.
The only name I love eludes my throat.

-- John J. Brugaletta
Fullerton, Calif.

National Catholic Reporter, March 5, 1999