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This is what I wish I had said,
standing next to you at the casket
instead of, you know,
‘She’s at rest now. She fought so hard.’
I would say, instead, that this is faith:

That what lies here is not your mother,
only clay and tubes and fiber
on a stilled frame. A wondrous thing,
but not your mother. This, rather,
is your mother:

Standing on a cliff over luminous waters,
her arms at the sides of her perfect,
true body. Her hair has returned to gold.
Her back, strong and pliant.

And her eyes, her eyes now peer
across the waters to the opposite shore
and she counts each emerald leaf
on every tree. She spots a dragonfly
and sees each tiny lens of compound eye.

Forgetting what fear even was,
she dives, plunges, and
makes a graceful underwater curve,
breaking the surface from below,

-- Dale Wisely
Birmingham, Ala.

Learning to See
Grant me the vision
to see leaves on naked
branches, to hear birdsong
in the stillness of winter,
to sense water flowing
beneath its skin of ice.

-- Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
Wellesley, Mass.

Winging the chimneys
of dimly lit buildings they
circle the steeple.

Bats in the belfry
upside down swinging claim their
rights at eventide.

Ringing bell is still
the hills silent, trailing mist,
the valley moon-kissed,

translucent; veiling
the trail the deer take to drink
from the silvered lake.

-- Sr. Martha Wickham, ASC
Red Bud, Ill.

Wind and rain this grey
Lenten day.
Wind that howls around
Jagged sins.
My vain
Desire for holiness,
Condenses against a leaden sky
And falls again.
No sadness, no desire, no pain.
Only this grey day.
I’ll believe in Easter
When it comes.
When it comes again.

-- Sr. Jo Morton, OSB
Mount Angel, Ore.

To Pray in the Truth
Say what you’re thinking.
Don’t hold back
secrets. Give them to God.

When we open a door, a closet
what tumbles out may knock us over
but soon we’re up and singing

with a voice that angels envy,
not for its key or register
(they hear better in paradise every day)

but for all of the pain that sings
in every bone they’ll never have,
that lifts to God on wings they cannot construct.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

You Know Not the Day Nor the Hour
O Blessed Thief,
come soon.

All my treasures
are laid out for you.
I want you to take them.

I am sitting here alone
in the dark.

I’ve left the doors

-- Mary Vineyard
Downeast, Maine

2002 in Poetry

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Poems should be previously unpublished and limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed.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, February 15, 2002