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Yahweh’s Other Shoe
“Abraham bowed to the ground, and he laughed to himself.
‘Is a child to be born to a man one hundred years old?’ ”
-- Genesis 17:17

Really now, it’s ridiculous, absurd. Funerals have been
planned, texts chosen,
plots selected, graves dug,
lean nephews eager at the door.

At a hundred, palsied of hand,
I should spurt my seed with vigor
so the servants at the well
can jest of a legendary goat.

They snicker as they feed the camels,
unspooled laughter at the tent,
limp around its pole,
billowing huge with a gust of wind.

They point fingers at Sara, ninety,
fruitful as a Negeb rock,
like a pregnant grandmother,
nine months gone, backaches,

morning sickness, and a hunger
for Arabian figs not found
in Mamre. So you will have
your little joke on us.

We giggled, too. Sara lied
to your abrupt face at soup.
Oh, you kept your little promise,
faithful to the last generation.

All of this, I know, is symbolic
of some vast cosmic intent,
some system of opaque meanings
about locating my existence in your sovereignty.

Just so. But it is not enough.
You build your witticism
into little Isaac’s name,
“Yahweh smiles.” Indeed.

So I pasture my flocks in the valley
where Persian Reeds and Lemon Grass
grow tall, waiting
for Yahweh’s other shoe to fall.

When God jokes,
expect a hook.

-- Fr. Kilian McDonnell
Collegeville, Minn.

Fowl Fidelity at 5 a.m.
(At a Rural Retreat)
I woke to the rooster’s crow --
a task given long ago
to his ancestral clay --
and wondered: though
he’ll never renege on his faithful din
(being untouched by original sin)
does he ever, in some rooster way,
long for a rainy day
so that he can sleep in?

-- Sr. Irene Zimmerman, OSF

Sister Water
Mountain streams thunder into lakes
and reservoirs; melts hurtle
down the slopes in silver veins,
spangling pastures with gentians
and alpenrose. This is the longed for
season when driving up into the green
spaciousness and glistening rocks
is also a tumbling down, when stones
are thatched with miniature blooms.
Water regenerates the earth
of ourselves -- sister water -- St. Francis
called it -- a roaring in the ears,
the snowbanks giving way, carved
from within, body against body
rinsed in their own light.

-- Marguerite Bouvard
Wellesley, Mass.

There is a small flame
inside me.

(God’s hands
are cupped around it.)

-- Mary Vineyard
Lubec, Maine

Picture Postcard: Roscommon Steelyard
There, on the outside wall of a shed
the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all faded
and pale. He looks out of a kelly-green box

its open door empty of glass
that protected the image from rain,
insects and wind of his own creation.

He is Lord of the steelyard, its scrap
metal of no use to anyone but him
who raises up from the heap what is discarded.

He is able despite his attachment
to wall, to cross, to tabernacle, to step out
from those frames that would confine
and walk among his people receiving their sins.

-- Judith Robbins

National Catholic Reporter, July 27, 2001