My mothers closet
To save each other
from going through my mothers
my sister and I each thought to do it --
but not yet.
Together, in the end, we learned
how hats and coats and dresses could
assault the heart,
like this bent thimble
I keep beside my bed.
Quietly we worked.
One cotton housecoat, too worn to give away,
us standing there.
And what I never learned from history or religion
learned here: how cloth becomes relic, and
more: what a relic
But my mothers treasure -- not clothes,
diamonds, gold, and cameos
she gave us, sons and daughters, years before
we found shelved above her coats.
Still she kept hidden what she
bought for holidays,
though we were, all seven, grown and gone.
October death we found within her closet
a paper tablecloth for Halloween,
new inside its plastic,
crying out in orange and black
of all our
and all the party games she ran for us and friends
each Octobers end.
The businesswoman that she was
for more than
half her life
blurs beside this mother in our home
even though we saw her
reach to others
through her shop, her sales, her ready coffee pot
chairs and listening ear.
At eighty, though, she stayed home
At eighty-seven, she still loved children in the house.
and Christopher, grandsons of her nurse,
she watched cartoons. You can
change the channel
if you want, I heard her tell them on my last visit
There were always children there: neighbors
grandchildren, the kids of those who came to pray
with her every day.
No wonder we found paper birthday hats
Easter bunnies waiting for another spring.
The best of bunnies we gave to
Christopher and Dee.
For myself, I kept a little Book of Dogs, an
a well-worn robe, and, best of all,
(though I never
this tiny thimble bent to fit her finger.
-- Mary Zoghby-Haffner
A business letter-sized envelope
the address neatly
and, in the upper left, a return address
But in the
stamped in red
PA DEPT. OF
The loss of dignity
stamped in red
You are ours --
lest you thought
you belonged to yourself --
with this red stamp
you belong to us.
So the recipient of such
to examine the red stamp --
before seeing much
The recipient may pause
and hold the envelope a while
Still the red letters beckon
the red letters pulsate like
a neon sign
they say, You are ours.
And the recipient rips
open the envelope
and reads the contents, neatly typed,
Except for the
The only mark of human hand,
But enough to say,
-- Amie Ilva Tatem
Staten Island, N.Y.
The Iconoclasm of Mice
Mouse dung falls from overhead on books
Ive made into
icons in my writing house.
All waste unsettles me, challenges me
eradicate it. Yet I crouch in my brain ashamed
of thinking of killing,
of how I will do it.
I mount the wooden ladder I use
to prune trees
in another season
and place the bait
wondering does the Creator
what I do while her furry back is turned.
-- Judith Robbins
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National Catholic Reporter, November 01,