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emerging crocuses
like sackclothed penitents
feel raw winds

when early robins
perched on bleak limbs
chant miserere
over tire-rutted mud

when yearnings for heat and hue
surpass hunger pangs
in this fasting time
and the soul is sour

then the wand of God
poises once more
and soon earth will burst
with resurrections.

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

Trompe l’oeil

In S. Ignazio in Rome, Brother Andrea Pozzo,
master of baroque illusion, confounds the eye,
transforming planes into vaulting, dome and cupola,
frescoed with heavenly visions. On yesteryear’s
New Yorker covers, the incomparable Mauritis C. Escher
compounds illusion, drawing those flights of stairs
to everywhere and nowhere. In turn, Fritz Eichenberg,
so loved and admired by Dorothy Day, shows you
the Supper of the Lord, with Jesus the host,
seen from behind and ringed by street people,
eleven of them, two serving the rest. At the top
of the lithograph, you see a half-open door
and a solitary figure standing in the cold,
eyes riveted on Jesus, leaving you
wondering: Is this a twelfth guest coming in
or is he, Judas, backing out into the night?

-- Fr. Walter Bado, SJ
Lexington, Ky.

Faith Like a Grain of Mustard Seed

The mustard seed is as sturdy as a weed.
It can take hold anywhere -- among rocks,
along putrid ditches, in country gardens,
along paths that lead deep into the woods.
No matter where it takes root, it takes over.

My faith has been more like a mysterious fish.
It can remain so still it fades into the beige
background or moves so quickly through rough
water, it appears to be no more than a ripple
of a wave. It will nibble at almost anything

it thinks can sustain it. Worse, it can be caught
by simply rubbing its belly -- and Lord knows
the world is still filled with people who hold
the secret of tickling fish. Sometimes my faith
is like a straw fence put up to hold back a raging

fire. It can be consumed with such furor, not
even ashes remain one minute, and burst into a
celestial umbrella that sheds the rains of doubt like
water off a duck’s back. I wonder if it has a sense
of humor or what waits in the white rage of its laughter?

-- Fredrick Zydek
Omaha, Neb.


Dawn gathers --
As the season of winter-white branches beckons,
Shrouded in the mists of the enveloping fog
Of our selfishness, aimlessness, our injustices,
Once more seeking conversion.
BREAD is broken for the masses,
And the WORD is spewed out to the starving.
As we journey toward the finale and forgiveness
of this Lenten Season.

-- Sr. Patrice Geppi, SSND


The steady sift of dust
on tabletops, in corners
better bright and sharp
fills us with sighs -- we scowl
and scour, forget
we too are dust,
burden and burdened
by each particle of history
settling hour on hour, forget to dream
our inconvenient dust
gives spirit form
and eyes lips fingers helping
any coming thing into its clarity
serve altitudes of love.

Well might we smile on dreaming dust,
wink, even, as with oils and soft cloths
we meet it for a while. Such gentle penance
lifts the sifting body, makes it light.

-- Sr. Mary Virginia Micka, CSJ
St. Paul, Minn.

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, March 22, 2002