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Fluid Crystal
So essential to the lives we lead
and to our commerce that the guarantee
of plentiful supply and purity
of water is a care to supercede
all others, leaving little thought or heed
to it as something pleasurable to see,
not just as streams and lakes in harmony
with nature, but from all externals freed.

Observe it in a tall, transparent glass;
as crystal gems that fountains fling in air;
as morning dew that sparkles on the grass;
as tear drops on a spider’s silken snare;
as sheen on pavement following a rain;
as little whirlpools going down a drain.

-- Mary C. Ferris
Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

I have accounted all else rubbish so
that Christ may be my wealth.
-- St. Paul, (Philippians 3:8)


I think of Hopkins burning all his poetry,
the leaping flames in the fireplace,
his words, his thoughts in smoke, the look on his face
to see gray ashes in the orange glow.
I wonder, did he weep, and did he know
that he would ever write again, and grace
would find him, even in his lonely place
where all the winds of winter seemed to blow?
How could he know warm breast of Holy Ghost
would find the poet there and offer him
bright wings, and in the dawn windhover Host
would come in blazing light, compelling him
to praise with voice the One who dwells inmost
and give us then that gift, his resonant hymn?

-- Nancy J. Nowak
Spencer, Mass.

-- Cologne, Germany, 1970

We sit in a café early evening
having crossed the Rhine twice today
and lingered under the arched ceiling
of Cologne Cathedral
echoing prayers of early saints.
Before us rise the towers
sullied since the Middle Ages, blackened
with the smoke of World War II.

Blocks away lie other churches
still hollow from shelling.
Cultural matrix, this cathedral
the Allies spared, its notched spires
long flues to heaven.

Sunset, bronze bars the river.
Steamers stitch an uphill journey.
The cathedral, brilliant changeling,
beckons us into her folds.

-- Stella Nesanovich
Lake Charles, La.

Waiting for Grace

As the century creaks to a close
there are concerns more critical
than the cycling of computers.
Halfway through my life, my child is now
barely old enough to
later remember this turn of a century.

We need our Church,
whole and complete in the fullness of everyone,
to be a home for our hearts and our souls.

We suffer not the hurt of halfway, of gifts not welcome,
of help not wanted but needed so much.

We long for the day when the table will be ready
and all will be gathered
and a married Catholic priest and his daughter
(my oh-so-loved husband and child)
may concelebrate and host the meal
that feeds the hungry and heals the sick.

Our hope may be outrageous,
our faith fragile,
but Love lingers way longer than Y2K.

And so we live in our longing,
waiting for Grace.

-- Sarah Robinson Flick
Dickinson, Texas

Poems should be limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed. Please send poems to NCR POETRY, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City MO 64111-1203. Or via e-mail to poetry@natcath.org or fax (816) 968-2280. Please include your street address, city, state, zip and daytime telephone number. NCR offers a small payment for poems we publish, so please include your Social Security number.

National Catholic Reporter, December 3, 1999