e-mail us


Take Heart

Raped at 5 by a neighbor
a woman I know
clung to an old cloth rabbit
until she was 12.
That’s when her mother
burned the rabbit, while she was off at school
saying to her when she returned,
You’re too old for such childish things.

Jesus, the bits of sacred connection
to which we cling
are woven of such cloth

as the seamless garment of Christ was
lost in a toss of dice but now redeemed
in a place where rabbit is reified
in the body of Christ who lives

re-membering; the limbs of mercy severed
he restores.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Prayer of the Tightrope Dancer

Oh God of tenderness
and watchful love,

You are my balance beam,
I shall not falter.

With you, my surety,
I will not fail.

-- Sr. Eleanor Fitzgibbons, IHM


Happy are the marigolds,
for they do not worry if their flowers and leaves
are coordinated.

Happy are the birds,
their melody is neither promoted by a company
nor judged by a DJ.

Happy are the dandelions,
the lowly are consistently raised
to manicured lawns.

Happy are the weeds,
in their annual visit
they courageously claim their space on the planet.

Happy are you
when people judge you
or by gender
for God knows what pleases God.

-- Sr. Rosemary Schmid, SC

Annunciation with Cat, the Renaissance

Lotto knew what the virgin would need,
betrothed to a man who could have her stoned,
how only her cat’s alarm when the herald landed
would reassure her she hadn’t dreamed it.

Detail by detail, he imagines for us how to weather
an annunciation: ribbon of sand in the hourglass,
the cat’s tail thin as a rat’s, fringe on the girl’s shawl,
its cord hung from an alcove nail: tethers

to the everyday when suddenly it shatters
and the only path forward
is through apparent blasphemy
or what a husband may not forgive.

Hazard offers its seeds in the lily’s cup
and a woman conceives the improbable as love.

-- Karen Zealand
La Vale, Md.

The Family of Man

Stranded for a summer afternoon in a city
Of strangers, and in want of human
Company, I found the zoo my refuge,
Its sanded pathways filling with families:
Couples hand in hand, parents with children,
Toddlers carried on shoulders for a better
View down into the busy prairie dog town,
The emu pressing his chainlink fence,
The icy blue stare of the polar bears.
Conversations everywhere: an animated passage
Of visitors talking a tongue not native
But foreign, surround the aviaries tunefully
Talking theirs. Chatter, chirps, snarls, hisses,
Screams, words, until standing before the comfortless
Turn and return of shadowed tigers, I share
Their comforting silence, padding the flesh-torn
Feathers of some forager not quick enough
At exiting the bars, shouldering each other
For companionship, stranded for all their afternoons
In a city of strangers, with the family of man.

-- Nancy G. Westerfield
Kearney, Neb.

1999 in POETRY

2000 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, September 1, 2000