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Angels in Snow

Angels are made --
Wooly winged and shod,
Eagerness mittened in --
With infinite care.
Snow first. Then trust,
To fall back,
Nose up,
Open-eyed to God.

Stillness. Muffled void.
Eons dissolve as
Giddy with grace
The form takes shape:
Arms arcing,
Legs swinging,
Up, down,
Back forth.

Rising is the hard part.
To resist the receiving snow,
Consider flaw,
Weigh perfection.
Then focus forward haloed head,
Heels dug in
Equal elbows bent,
Now! Heart-breath lift!
Try again.
Practice. Practice.
A good morning’s work.

When evening comes,
Westering light reveals the fresco:
Burnished with flame,
A multitude of the heavenly host.

One ponders love …
Earth upside down,
Heaven split,
Sky dizzy with remembered angels.

--Marilyn Ward Coll
Williamstown, Mass.

Anywhere But Here

If I could be anywhere
Where would I be?
Anywhere but Jersey
Believe you me
Perhaps on a yacht
On the ocean blue
Perhaps on the next flight
To Timbuktu
Anywhere but here
Believe you me
Cause Jersey in summer
Ain’t no place to be

--Dawn DellaBella
Hoboken, N.J.

Dawn’s poem was written in a writing workshop sponsored by the Hoboken Clergy Coalition Shelter for the Homeless when she resided there.

Election Year

Today there is voting in our neighborhood.
The cars pull up, ease into the drive
and park.
The sky is overcast.
These are the ordinary, the silent,
and the old.
Drab as the rain that comes and goes --
almost as invisible.
They enter the school building:
Each in turn will pull a lever as if
lighting a small votive candle.
“Better than to curse the darkness” perhaps.
Too tired for any other kind of prayer,
they leave to live beyond any elected promises
but their own.
A clunker starts and gurgles down the drive --
an epic of some forgotten time.
That’s the word: epic.
Epics endure --
beyond promises no matter how brittle.
As a wise man once said,
more than survival, somehow, we will endure.

--Sr. Lou Ella Hickman, IWBS
Corpus Christi, Texas

Susquehanna Cliff Outlook

At the edge of mossed-down, windswept cliff,
I verge at valley deaths and valley dream.
Where Susquehannocks watched, I wonder if
they foresaw bays and seas in this thin stream
and somehow sensed that settlers’ carts and rafts
would crown their paths and hack their woods to fields
as wrights worked and weighed their lumber, crops and crafts
and sent them drifting down to merchants’ yield
of barrel, coin, and tonnage on the ships
that formed flotillas in the Chesapeake
and eastward, northward, steamed, or, full-sailed, whipped
to Europe’s starched and laced-tight armed elite.
Where tribal councils met on treetopped rock,
they fell forward once the guns of greed were cocked.

--Sr. Pamela Smith, SSCM
Orchard Lake, Mich.

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1999 in POETRY

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 17, 1999