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I bought the jar of honey
at the discount store
for a dollar

can’t go wrong,
honey is honey,

I tell myself,
besides, the jar is pretty,
a honeycomb on its lid,
small, just right
for summer jam

at home,
the label informs me
that this honey
was made by bees
in a Hungarian meadow,
and joy warms through me
like a sudden blast of sun

I stand in the winter kitchen,
waist high in waving poppies
and yarrow and paintbrush,
I know this place
and the young girl running
barefoot through it,
blonde curls and a necklace
of white clover heads
streaming behind her

she is that ancestor
I know only through
my mother’s remembering,
along with tales
of family noses and tempers
and an uncle who trained
Lippizaner horses

I have formed her
in admirable image,
wise child, wise woman,
who has given me my love
for earth and words,
I see her, older now,
moving with soft feet
and careful eyes
in this very meadow
(it is not impossible)
foraging flowers and herbs,
stripping willow bark and cherry,
to use as poultice
or potion to discourage
moths and fitful sleep,
bending, weaving
in gentle dance,
courteous of the bees
whose descendants
carry on

from my mother’s gold-rimmed cup,
I drink the honeyed tea,
the holy wine,
in communion with all
who have made me,
the child with bouncing curls
and those who came before her,
who dance in my heartbeat,
ride the rapids in my
tributaries of blood,
tantalize my mind
with impudent violins,
seize my fingers
with laughter
as I type

bless all of you
who hover round my cup
and speak to me of family!

-- Ethel Pochocki
Brooks, Maine

Righteous Man Praying
Three months and no rain, O Lord.
The field yields its last dew,
Dust gray becomes the parched soil.
To the bare ground crops stoop,
Cattle bearing still tongues in wide mouths.
Heat upholds summer sky high,
No shade for us to hide. With pursed lips
We stand under our own suspense.
No patch of cloud, no thread of wind,
As the silence of dead air penetrates, we
Cannot but look in, dig in,
To find the dryness deep within.

No praying, no righteous man,
No righteous man praying,
Not even one single rain-man like Elijah.
Shelter us from the hot spells of false prophets;
Shower us, O Lord, in the greenhouse of your prayer.

-- Ben Hsiau
Columbia, Mo.

Leave-taking Prayer
If the heart grows heavy
As an adamantine stone
May some lost lark find refuge there
And a lilting song intone.

And if sadness sits upon your winter face
And heavy knits your brow
May spring descend with flowers bright
And laugh upon the broken bough.

If the road leads to deserts sere
And the soul is on sorrow’s brink
May you find old Jacob’s ancient well
And drink, and drink, and drink.

-- Br. Thomas More, CFX
Louisville, Ky.

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 topoetry@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, June 29, 2001