Night-people, their hour of rising
Is with the dark:
the last elevators
Descending at six in the office towers,
power-suits and their briefcases;
The next going up bring the
Maintenance carts, and the maids in disposable
Gloves. One by
one fanning out to their floors
Assigned, they part company in
Vietnamese, Ghetto, Greek: cheerful night-wishes
nights work to be done, gleaning
The littered fields where
Have reaped their harvest. Dust is laid, trash
executive carpets cleaned. The hours
Wear on. Down a midnight hallway, blank
Screens before mornings numbers rise again green,
womans chocolate contralto bleeds in song: how
She will come
rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
-- Nancy G. Westerfield
A Scripture Lesson in Kenya
In Swahili theres no distinguishing
words, the scholar explains,
no noun or pronoun to denote
woman, he from she,
There is only person, only
Imagine how that would be:
no signs that write you out
no sacred text in which youre invisible
No reserving the Imago Dei
for the anatomically
The Nairobi-born scholar concludes
her Scripture text, the
their reverie. Just one question:
Does she ever mind
not having a word
to reflect her genders
No. She minds only the long reach
foreign words that would deny
her priestly call.
-- Kathleen R. OToole
The Weight of Little Things
Each step was counted like the prophets
flight to Medina. The Serb farmer
along the road guarded his front door
with a loaded pistol after having locked
his wife and daughter inside. We
the other way, pretending not to notice
the burnt Albanian
the field from his. Neighbor fighting
neighbor, Fatima said. Back home
in Urosevac, our Yugoslav
brought us bread on Fridays for Sabbath.
Our children shared
sweets with theirs,
Melaim would meet with Vlajko down
tobacconists for tea and gossip,
and always the televised soccer
together after dinner Tuesday evenings.
We heard rumors, but nothing
of them. One morning we woke up
and all the doors on our
street were painted
with an S. All, except ours. Vlajko
Those damn nationals,
he said, scrubbing his door as he
There were little things; the red leaflets
stuck in the cracks
of the mosque wall,
teasing from the other school boys
when they saw
penis asking him if he was really born
a dog. Yes, there were little things
Wed survived them before.
had always left us alone. When the tanks
rolled down our road
that day, we packed
our things and left. Not much weight to carry,
the children, some papers and clothes,
our neighbors Serbian bread on
-- Jason Ranek
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Walking Through Paradise with a Friend
At the end of the path you expect nothing,
perhaps and then pure air,
no trace of animal droppings, insect bites,
just an opening in the trees,
an end of the path cleared before us,
suddenly treeless empty plain,
not even the sounds of birds chirping.
Here is the story that you desire.
There will be no suffering, no
Everyone you love will feel good.
Around each neck a chain with a
instead of that man on a cross.
You would celebrate the caves of
For me, there are rocks and blood,
nails and broken bones, but
I am not
alone in this. We are all within
this one suffering body of
so long as we breathe, but
there is a window, a clearing,
an opening in the wall,
a way out of the cave.
Someone has shown us
by passing through it first
and now calls us along this
I will meet you in that clearing, friend.
Whatever we go
through, well go through.
We will sing together in Paradise
we have begun to sing even now.
-- Leo Luke Marcello
Lake Charles, La.
National Catholic Reporter, July 30,