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Gathered Wisdom

(A prayer for Africa)
The first part of a six-part poem
Our loved ones
our life and hope
the gathered wisdom
in the soil
the land
the earth
the animals
the plants
the sky
The spirit of our people
linking us
calling us forth
’tis the ancestors in the voices
of us all
in the children
and their dark faces
receptacles of light
shining forth
big, gleaming teeth
in fantastic smiles
joyous waves
and buoyant shouts
and experienced
only if we
and hoping against all
in diverse unity,
with our God
of small joys.

-- Jim Petkiewicz
Oaxaca, Mexico


I gather them up at the frontiers
of sleep, lift the children out of newsprint;

the spindly Sudanese baby, a whole country’s
famine echoing in his scream.

I stroke his forehead, my hands spill
oranges and bread. On the back pages

where AIDS in South Africa is rendered
in three column inches, I open the door

to the rickety house of a girl
who tended her parents into their deaths.

Relatives have moved in, and treat her
like a servant. I become a tree

standing over that house,
my leaves whispering through walls.

-- Marguerite Bouvard
Wellesley, Mass.

For a Friend in Need of Hope

That spring the lake rose
and rose
in mist and fog a fragile morning
that, if frightened, might
take its leave.
Nothing moved and it lingered.
On the shore a great blue heron
waiting, I suppose,
for frog or snake or fish
or, like Elijah in his cave,
hearing the voice of silence.
Solitary, stilled, balanced
on one leg
he bid the morning

-- Carole Garibaldi Rogers
Morristown, N.J.

The First Crocus

In March amid the blow and cold,
up through the layered leaves dark mold
a golden crocus blooms alone.
Distilled from earth, rain, snow and sun,
appointment kept, the cycle run
a Chalice lifts and winter’s gone.

-- Sr. Martha Wickham, ASC
Red Bud, Ill

2001 in Poetry

2000 in Poetry

1999 in Poetry

Poems should be previously unpublished and limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed.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 23, 2001