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We Have Wines

It’s the wine that shocks -- not the brittle bread --
and reveals the Christ.
Today, a sherry, golden in the cup,
syrup-like but sharp on the tongue,
the wine is grape, but not grape,
something unforeseen on the vine
except by the far foreseeing Father,
who said, “Bring forth,”
and affirmed what he had made,
and the maiden mother, who at Cana
said, “They have no wine.”
We have wines --
sweet ambers, tart rosés, almost bitter reds --
that evoke our own transformation.

-- John D. Groppe
Rensselaer, Ind.

Eulogy to a Tree

I walk down to the water, at the log yard.
I stop at the big one -- Douglas fir, I think,
and count 500 rings in its severed body.
For pulp, they have taken down this forest patriarch,
sawed it into eight-foot lengths, and it lies
among the ruins in the gravel, still oozing wet
with life.

I wonder if it feels the pain of its sudden, meaningless demise.
Does it have a soul, to live on and see
what has happened to where it once sheltered the beasts
and gave rest and birthing places
to the creatures of the air?
What did they do with its branches, budded in hopeful
exuberance of life yet to come?

I think they call it “slash,” and
heap it into a mound, and burn it on the skin of my Mother.
Clear cut; there are no giants left now, to suck up and cleanse
what the trucks have done to the air,
no giant arms reaching high to catch the sun and
bid the seasons their passing.
Gone are the lullabies sung softly in night winds,
soothing all who can be still enough to listen.

This tree must remember things we cannot imagine --
wars, perhaps, and matings, birthings and loss.
This tree was hatched from seed before any white man dared
to trespass its soul, trampling out forever
what beings got in his path,
dominating the earth and its stunned inhabitants.
This tree could once see the horizon, clean and crested
with all of its relations; it bore to the core of its being
the Word of God, made flesh in all creation.

Oh, my sacred friend, let me stand here beside your drying hulk,
and receive your grace and dignity.
You wise old witness to all that is good and to ultimate sadness,
pray for me, now and forever more. Amen.

-- Sarah Ann McMahan
Eugene, Ore.

Landlubber’s Sea Song

Out on the high seas one day
I felt the air change
and the sea change
and ice on the wind

My compass had long gone overboard,
the halyard rotted out
the sails didn’t match
an albatross hatched
in the foc’s’l or the bow

I moved fast
It wouldn’t last
There was a lot to learn

Passing strange
such a windy change
and the sea abaft my stern

-- Sue Dwyer
Toledo, Ohio

Same Old Used-to-be

(to be read aloud)
If you’re looking for other than
ordinary discreet vibrations
then don’t look here

This here’s the same
old used to be
The way it always was
That golden extraordinary
Thread of all
Ahh …

Don’t look again
It’s just the same
old as it was
Another and the same way
all Allah

Same vibrations always was
The threading looks the same
as if because
Allah Yah-Wah
Ho-yeh Ha

-- Hinoh Tioynih
Black Mountain, N.C.


I love marigolds
they smell like summer, not sweet
but pungent like sweat
and earthy things brought
to fruition through honest
toil and hard labor.

-- Martha Wickham
Red Bud, Ill.

National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 1999