National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  May 16, 2003


My Last Visit With Mother
“Before you go,
Come see the daffodils.”
And yes, there gratefully was
That extra minute.

She was so proud of their beauty,
Placed now in sunlight warmth,
Purchased not raised by her hand.
Nevertheless a beauty.
A Beauty to be shared.

Her hearing not always best
Now diminished by 85 years,
I wonder if she heard me say:
“Daffodils are such happy flowers.”

--Margaret Mary Knittel
Geneva, Ill.

The Bible As the Compost Pile
A Poem Inspired by Walter Brueggemann’s
Texts Under Negotiation

Behind our house,
new to us,
I discover compost
Left there by the last owners
And an old garden
all played out
An inadequate piece of ground
Barren and arid from misuse and neglect
Where even the weeds are stunted
And of a variety that spring up in poor soil.

That barren ground longs for some
Discarded old growth,
Willingly cast off
Containing seeds of its own
Which elude me now.

I spread the compost
On the barren ground
in a gesture of hope
for regeneration.

Maybe I’ll grow some grapes for wine
And flowers for the table.
Perhaps a squash seed from a long forgotten dinner
Will spring up among fresh lettuce.
Maybe a pumpkin will grow from out of
A row of beans,
A tomato plant in the marigolds.
Life and surprises from old barren ground.

--Robert Thiefels
Hinesburg, Vt.

This, too, Is Holy
To unroll the toilet tissue and wipe
The wet of the elderly resident
In Room 211; to anoint the scaly
Permanent bedsores of the patient almost
Past pain and its palliatives; to be sent
To the call-light of the dementia case
Or the accident victim of twenty
Now no longer respondent to scan; to bend
To the whispered request for a hand
To grasp as the baby is born;
To wash the feet that might have been
His, and not leave them unblessed.

--Nancy G. Westerfield
Kearney, Neb.

                            -- NCR photo/Matt Stoulil

We knew the flat treeless plain
Where the low sky borders the land
Where wind strums the golden heads of wheat fields
and grandfather prays dependency.

On a summer’s day
We children stood looking south
Far down the rutted dry road
For movement
For horse and buggy
Bearing the itinerant priest.

We knew he would appear early afternoon
on this, the first Saturday of the month
As he always did
Beginning early spring until late fall
When snows obliterated roads.

We sentinels
Spying the single black dot in the distance
Sent the alarm,
“The priest! The priest is coming!”

Summoned grandfather from the wheat fields
to welcome and to escort
This revered lone traveler
to quarters made ready for him.

What a wonder-filled day it was
When this man of God
Came to break bread
Amid the blessed fields of wheat!

--Monica L. Zabor
Arlington Heights, Ill.

National Catholic Reporter, May 16, 2003

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