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The Anvil of God

The sigh of the wind
the rustle of the sea
are the anvil of God.

The wind
molds our gestures
tempers our souls
and its cadence infuses our spirits
with the salt of life.

The sea
gnaws our geography
nourishes our horizons
and its rhythm marks our paths
with the essence of love.

The anvil of God
is the salt of life
is the essence of love.

-- Efrain M. Díaz-Horna
Salem, Ore.

Cinema Verité

It was like entering a theater for a matinee
where I was the audience and Kathy the confident star
or like entering a confessional face-to-face
where I was the priest and Kathy the intimate confider.

It was usually a man.
Tears would roll from her lashless eyes
down cheeks of blossoming sores
which grew too on the backs of her hands.
He wants distance he says. She’d absently scratch
look down at the counter, then eye me slyly

from beneath her wig of Prince Valiant hair
the single thing about her that didn’t ring true
in her world at the back of the video store
with her tapes of Madonna, her goldfish, just one
and her large laugh in her oversized body
confined by shelves of Scarlett O’Hara
Nick and Nora Charles and Warren Beatty.

A pitched parental scold from the front
would sever her reverie. Discomposed
she’d write the invoice.
Good to see you. Say hi to Patrick
she’d call as I walked to the door
but that was before
her brown eyes had deepened to black.
The last time we talked together, she was already gone.

When I read her obit a week later
how she shot herself at the back of the store
I remembered she’d asked me to take her to town
once and I wondered if after all
it would have made the difference
but I said no.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Northwest Sound (1999)

Summer shines on Vashon
so close to & distant from
Seattle traffic & Microsoft techies

We pick ripe black berries
by the roadside
We dig clams
hidden under slimy rocks
on Spring beach and ride
a small boat to Olalla
where a black house painter
from Tacoma explains his life
of lost fingers and close calls

We sort through life
listening to the crow
the barking seal and screeching gulls
walking on wet rocks at low tide
watching the ferryboat cruise by
then ease into port Tahlaquah

We come together
in the ebb and flow
of the tide
in mystic sight
of Mt. Tahoma

Later we dance within
the sacred circle
by talking drums
tall fir and cedar

At nightfall
the sacrament of love
inspires goodbyes
at the landing.

Foghorns cut the silence
of moonless night
as the ferry
from Vashon
ploughs thick fog
on Puget Sound
the island recedes
in layers of mist

-- Tomás
San Diego

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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, February 4, 2000