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Splendor of magnolia,
Easter gift!
Your nuanced tones
Of pale purple
Tell of tenderness.

Jesus to Peter,
“Do you love me?”
Repeated, echoed 400 times
On the one bush,
Five feet around:
Space enough for 3 apostles standing,
Plus some fish on a fire.

I walk in wonder.
In buds, in birds,
Trembling life
Surges from the tomb,
And all around me,
From earth and sky and wind and water
The call reverberates,
“Do you love me?”

Then comes the tempest;
The tender blooms are
Tossed about and
Hurled upon each other.

After the fray
I see a beaten bush;
Nothing is left of
Nuanced pink and purple.

On the ground are
Torn petals and sticks
As remains of a fire would be.

Love has been blown and buffeted,
And the whine of the wind
“I -- I think so --
I want to.”

-- Sr. Matthias Michels, OP
Sinsinawa, Wis.

The Women of the Last Supper

Definitely there, behind the scenes,
they worked as always, preparing
for the event they had not been invited
to; though certainly their work

was invited, their good food, its warm
inviting smells. Their hair like gleaming
rags rubbed the table to a glassy shine,
which reflected on that night of nights

the invited men watching, the cup,
the bread, raised high. But that was later,
after. When the women arrived it was
daybreak and light poured everywhere

in the Upper Room, as they poured flour
through a sieve eleven times. Bitter
herbs, snakeroot and chicory, sat soaking;
spiced fruit was peeled for puree. They

knew the rules of this occasion, and worked
in quiet unison without the need to speak,
as water from the well was brought and
fell upon the walls and floor in a cleansing

splash. The room sat early washed and
waiting, for the sun and wind to do their
drying work, their part in preparation, these
spirits of the sky; not invited, but also there.

-- Jessica Maich
Granger, Ind.

Friday, 3 p.m.

At 3 o’clock on that Friday afternoon, Jesus, the man from Nazareth, the God from God, died:

Dead was the body labored from his mother’s womb and adored by the
the body that was immersed by John in the Jordan,
that was transfigured on the high mountain,
that fell prostrate in the Garden.
Drained were the cheeks kissed by his mother and by Judas.
Limp were the arms that reached out to his mother from the manger,
that wrapped around Mary and Martha in their grief.
Lifeless were the hands stroked by his parents as they fled to Egypt,
that touched and cured the untouchable leper,
that shared the bread, his body, at the Last Supper.
Closed were the eyes that were aware of the hungry thousands on the hillside,
that spotted Zaccheus in the tree,
that could not bear to see the Temple used for profit.
Still were the lips that spoke “Abba” to Joseph and to Yahweh,
that read and sang in the synagogue,
that laughed with friends.
Silent was the voice that taught the Beatitudes and told
unforgettable stories of seeds and sowers, shepherds and sheep,
prodigal sons, and good Samaritans;
the voice that commanded the seas to be calm and demons to be gone;
that whispered to the adulterous woman that she was not condemned.
Limp were the legs that formed a lap that cradled the children,
the knees that bent to the floor to wash the disciples’ feet.
Motionless were his own feet that once walked on water,
that crisscrossed Galilee, Samaria, and Judea from city to town, lake to
river, grove to desert to proclaim Good News.
So completely [empty] was Jesus that he became [the] perfect vessel on
Easter morning for the fullness of God’s life in which we share. Amen.

-- Paul Homer
West Hempstead, N.Y.

First Easter

Spring comes insistently.

How dare it arrive as it always does?
Days breaking early,
Sun warming,
Bulbs thrusting green points from cold soil,
Red buds bursting from maple bark?

My beloved has died. I am desolate, widowed.
Yet Spring returns as ever,
Not acknowledging his death,
Not detouring respectfully around me in my grief.

Spring easters into my bereavement,
Blowing light, warmth, birdsong right past me,
Brushing against me abrasively, carelessly,
Forcing me to decide:
Do I brace myself against it, hold it out?
Or do I let Spring in?

-- Virginia L. Collins English
Wilbraham, Mass.

The Woman of the Altar Linens

If she could have, she would have washed
and folded the death shroud of Jesus
to leave it for the mourning women to find,
but an earlier angel had to do that.
She refolds soiled altar linens in chapel light,
disappears behind its sanctuary wall
and then reappears with the morning’s linens,
to place them as if within the cave.
They do not have the sweet spill smell
of wine from evening Mass, as his shroud
must have had the aroma of burial --
the spices and scented oils of Magdalene --
but of tumble dry and steam iron press
and the gentle fold of her angelic hands.

-- Chet Corey
Bloomington, Minn.

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, April 13, 2001 [corrected 4/27/2001]