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Last night more snow fell
And it falls now on the unjust,
And the just, and the metal flower holder
I took from the trash and painted,

And on the railings, and the wings of birds,
Cardinals, and the lawnmowers
You were going to fix and didn’t,
And the sidewalk, and the mailbox,

And Mary’s outstretched hands.
The snow falls down
And the roses at her feet lie buried
And one more thing, you said, before you left,

It is winter in heaven, and winter on earth.
They are the same, for once.

-- Ann Cramer
Barrington, Ill.

Child, Implanted

“Her hearing implant is in place now,
Just this week.” Jan the mother
Of the child born deaf, reaches down
To lift the proud accomplishment
To viewing level. Wide-eyed and apprehensive,
Hands extended more as shield than greeting,
Child Amanda needs excuses: “What she hears
Is only noises still, to her,” Jan says,
“And she’s confused, after all that silence.”
I say her name Amanda, exploding the m
With its rush of air against her face,
And she recoils. Out of a blessed Eden
Free of words, her innocence has been
Implanted with our fearful power of talk;
Now she will control the animals, with us
Control each other, answer back to God
By this evening, in his Eden walk.

-- Nancy G. Westerfield
Kearney, Neb.

On the Feast of St. Brigid

I sing the song my mother sang, but in a different key.
She was Finnish through and through. I am too,
but Celtically
because of my father whose family came from Clare
in the bleak West of burning peat, the peaks of

visible from the Isle of Innishmore, where one afternoon
in late August, in open air on the rising road to the
ring fort
I eavesdropped a geography lesson from father to son:
You see there the Twelve Bens, the peaks of Connemara …

So that’s what they are. I followed his finger
to the swells of hills across the water
where bloom a thousand rocks and a thousand sheep
where legend stoops to drink at the water’s edge

the brine preserving the inner organs
of lines worth passing from father to son.
I remember the time, the father began,
and his son looked up at him with an opened eye.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Estelli, Nicaragua

We walked off
our air-conditioned tour bus
to witness a funeral procession.
The children clung to their parents
who stared back at us as if to say:
Norte Americano, what the fuck are you doing here?
Members of our group
snapped pictures of the coffin,
a sixteen-year-old man
killed in battle
with bullets wrapped in American tax dollars.

That afternoon
a city councilman invited us into his office.
His fingers tapped anxiously upon the desk.
He recalled
Somoza’s troops invading Estelli
in the spring of 1979
with U.S. built tanks.
The people of Estelli
with their bare hands
dug tunnels under the walls of houses
to pass guns, food and water.
Leading us a tour of the bullet riddled city hall
and trying to control his voice
he said:
This is where my nephew died.
In the basement of a small church
a young nun shared a silent prayer
with our group and proclaimed:
It is the priests and sisters
who are called to true teachings of Christ
who followed the Sandinistas in the revolution.
The Pope and the United States will never stop us.

That night in a dream I saw a banquet table
where the Blessed Mother sat with the people of Estelli.
A Contra guerrilla, his face changing to mine,
walked up and tossed a grenade.
I threw myself to the floor.
I heard the Virgin Mary scream.

-- Thomas B. Greving
Alexandria, Va.

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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, March 17, 2000