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Poetry inspired by St. Katharine Drexel

From Blackrobe’s Love Letters:
Poems about Katharine Drexel

Excerpts from the poem “The Snug Little Nest, or
In My Twelfth Year the Black Line Was Drawn”

I was a child of many questions,
and my life had all the answers,
private tutors, servants, travels,
but always the one most important:

Oh, Mama, what frock shall I wear?
My leaded-grey or my white pique?
My ermine? My satin? My silk? …

At Emma’s Deathbed

What can money do?
Nothing, nothing.
What can money do?
We will do it anyway.
Nothing, nothing,
we do it and it’s nothing
and when it’s all over,
there will be nothing left
and when it’s all over,
there will be more to do.

Excerpts from a two- part poem titled “A Sister Writes from the Missions, 1888”:

First Reports

We have come a few hundred miles
nearer the end of the world.
Did it seem so to you, Miss Katie?
The people remember you
and long to shake hands again.
The nights are cold.
We feel it more
since we sleep on the floor. …

The Loneliness of this World

Honored dear Miss Katie,
We go to sleep dressed, prepared
for fire, prepared for what to save.
The morning light may find our mission
a spot of ruins and ashes. …

From Nothing Grows in One Place Forever: Poems of a Sicilian American

The Grocer

He lost his wife years ago to diabetes,
somewhere under the counter
or behind the store.
One minute he was cutting T-bones,
the next he was a widower.
The widows rushed in, as usual,
but he was too fast, or slow.
He courted them all with gifts
but slept alone for the next
twenty years. What a waste,
of good produce, they used to say.

National Catholic Reporter, April 6, 2001