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Stay on the line for the next available angel
Your call is very important to us ...

-- Ann Tuxbury
Webster Groves, Mo.

The Real Cathedral

Once a young woman
of no importance
constructed a cardboard cathedral
of no value
on the sidewalk outside

the Hippie Kitchen. Her eyes
told me I was welcome
to come inside. We spoke
in the language of silence

(this is something that
women of different cultures
can learn to do).

I entered the cardboard cathedral
on my knees. The cement floor
was cold, unforgiving, sacred.
The woman of no importance
opened a cigar box tabernacle.

One by one she held up
the jewels hidden inside:
broken glass; discarded bottle caps;
a jagged piece of mirror; an

earring, cheap and tarnished.
There was no bread, no wine.
She held the earring up,

offered it to me. I accepted.
The movement of her body,
the stirring of her blood, the
most profound act of consecration
I have ever witnessed.

Holy ... holy ... holy.
She lived this wordlessly,
breathed it in and out quietly,
moment by moment. I longed

for her to bestow a blessing on me
the way a lost child longs to be found.
But she was curling her unwashed

body around the cigar box, falling
into a deep sleep. Certainly, I thought,
as I crawled out through the slice
in the cardboard -- gift in hand --
this is the first woman priest,

ordained by obscurity, dreaming inside
the only real cathedral in town.

-- Toni Flynn
Valyermo, Calif.

The Veil

We grew up together.
I taught him how to dance
at Auntie Miriam’s wedding,
“Lift your feet,” I said,
“Now kick -- higher -- good
like a horse prancing --
snap your fingers,
loosen your shoulders,
bob you head --
feel the rhythm.”
It was twilight
the greying of the day
the dawning of the night.
The people in our village
as we do whenever the seasons change
and the Earth decorates herself
in bridal perfumes and costumes.
I felt his nervous, sticky palms,
I squeezed his hand -- reassuring him.
Becoming cocky -- he pulled me up and back
then spun me round
with a rush
that lifted the folds of my dress
baring my ankles.
I saw him smirking --
So just to prove to him that I wasn’t
I lifted my dress more. ...
His mouth opened wide.
Mother gave me a look
that told me she knew what I was up to.
When the music ended
I felt his hands around my waist
raising me above the crowd
that clapped for us
as we took our bows
saluting each other.
The sweat rolling down his cheeks--
I pulled off my veil
and wiped his face.
He took my hands,
kissing my fingers one by one
prophetic of the gentle man
He was becoming.

That’s why I fought off the soldiers
who kept throwing me to the ground
as He carried His cross.
Then trying to get close to Him
the Universe paused and let me in
and I pulled off my veil
wiping His face again.

-- Janice Sevre’-Duszynska
Lexington, Ky.

National Catholic Reporter, April 30, 1999