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A Diversity of Icons

Three rocks my grandson gave me
knock against each other
in my pocket, a reliquary

each time I finger their ragged shapes
I wonder, Do I fetishize? when they recall
his deep blue eyes

better than bones and bits
of hair of saints captured
in cloth or leather or wood.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Shining Through

in this grey dawn
of coffee and prayer,
I sit stone still
in the rocker,
nothing moves,
poised pen,
the slippery fold of robe,
all caught in the moment
like a scene sitting
for its portrait,
a still life framed
by the ticking clock,
the snapping of firewood,
snoring of the just-fed cat,

even the prism
in the window
hangs vacant,
glass upon glass,
without a hint
of wind or fire
to liven it

a murmur of purple
ripples through the crystal,
bursts into a scarlet sun
shooting off rays
that pulse and ebb
like the Sacred Heart,
blend and shift
into gold and peacock blue,
silver and the softest green,
disappearing into each other
like a kaleidoscope
twirled too fast

I reason
it must be the sun,
still curtained behind
the sleeping grey,
working its alchemy nonetheless
to illuminate the ready place
and reflect

--Ethel Pochocki
Brooks, Maine

At Fourteen I Drive the Car

The snow was new upon the northern ground
that March, a foot of tumbled crisp geometries,
white wisdom laid soft across Dad’s Ford,
the company car now parked upon the street.

Who of you at fourteen has not jingled
car keys in a pocket of dirty jeans,
the golden spurs of the unneeded shave,
the first defiant beer in the pubescent night?

The key rages the motor into life,
the company car lurches through the swirl,
a Dakota samurai on a steed of steel,
a street cowbody for fifty feet of freedom,

shiring off Dad’s fender on the car
tethered just ahead. Though raised by wolves,
my feral glands were spayed with fear.
How to tell the father of eight Apaches,

-- eight jinglers of the mystic keys,
hot for the road and pieces of the world --
how tell him of his fenderless pride -- and live?
“Son, it was your turn to wreck the car.”

--Fr. Kilian McDonnell, OSB
Collegeville, Minn.


Lord, the spunk, the wit,
to take on water,
as if so much stone,
and hold it,

hold it to tide. Lord, the crow,
the haw haw
through the backfield
how did you know

it would teach my soul
to fly out of its dark hole.

Lord the sheer audacity of it all,
to make a blossom,
and then, when my mother died,
to let it fall,

the colors weeping, the choir
singing what must be sung
we praise thy name
we praise thy name.

--Mary Ann Meade
Conshohocken, Pa.

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, September 20, 2002