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On Viewing the “Madonna of the Rosary” By Tiepolo

Tiepolo’s red Virgin
strides out into the
milling crowd at the
Metropolitan Museum.

A cherub holds
back her veil
as she breaks through
a curtain of heavy

Her hip is thrust
away from the
who on a
cloud suspended
looks over
to her upraised
hand where from
sparkling beads
dangles a toy like
a tiny cross.

O Mother powerful
bearer of blood,
shed in birth,
harvested in death,
you press forward
with sanded foot
inviting us to dance.

-- Pamela Kirk Rappaport
Arlington, Va.


In the upper room
Pentecostal wind
swirled like a tornado of grace
and fiery tongues
burned language into stutterers.

O Spirit,
stir our passion again!
Light wildfires
and spin them past
our tame intentions.

Huff and puff till you blow down
the shutters we hide in,
scarred by earlier zests,
more cowardly and cynical
than once upon a time

when we inhaled your fire
and gulped your windstorms
like tap water
and laughed at those
who counseled caution.

-- Sr. Patricia Schnapp, RSM
Adrian, Mich.

Dancing with Cranes

There is no tenderness in their courtship,
Scrabbling for footing on snowed stubblefields:
Their gawky leaps of the ungainly legs,
The gawky wings hitched upward in a species-
Specific code of amorousness with no chosen
Love-match as object, all the scattered love-
Objects indifferently probing stubble for food.
With fall of evening, the ruby-crowned heads
Leave off dancing, the food-gathering, the florid
Exercise of genetic drills, fly over us
Following the patterns of water to night’s
Methodical patterns of rest, before resuming
Tomorrow’s dance. Entranced on the bridge’s
Viewpoint for watching how cranes meet, mate,
Eat, repose: Our hands find each other’s
For the long walk back along country roads,
Winged-walking in trances of tenderness
Dancing our own courtship’s genetic codes.

-- Nancy G. Westerfield
Kearney, Neb.

Who holds us together?

A sacred tradition has it
that at all times and all ages
there exists a minimum of ten souls,

scattered and unknown
even to one another,
who with their hungers and thirsts,
their prayers and deeds,
hold the world together,

ever gluing back our family shards,
redoing our undoings, our killings,
redeeming our failures
to stand under one another.

To know such a one is almost enough.

-- Tom Keene
San Antonio

Prayer For a Once and Future Planet

For every god’s-child:
sun on a bright day
clear water on the mountain
and sleep in a sheltering place

-- Anne Heutte

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, September 14, 2001