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An Awakening

The whole creation has been groaning
as in the pains of childbirth.
-- Romans 8:22

This is how it was,
at daybreak,
beneath an unforgettable August
sky, forget-me-not blue,
creased with thin, curved cloud --
curved and bone white,
like the ribs of Adam
stretched wide
across flesh of sky;
Ribbed cirrus clouds
wind exhaling morning --
itself breathing,
and for a moment,
not I.

-- Patricia Rose Pflaumer
North Weymouth, Mass.

The Divine Parakeet

(6th Sunday of Easter)

When I was
A little one
Maybe 8 or so
And heard that Jesus
Gave us a Paraclete
As a gift
I knew it was
Really called
And I wanted one
Mostly green

Then when I advanced
To the certainty
Of 12 and learned
The fun of misbehaving
The Parakeet
Became the Spirit-dove
My mother
Fervently prayed
Would surround me
And protect others
From me

But when I became an adult
In years at least
The dove transformed into
A mother and father God
Who held me and
Sent the Son
To walk along side me

But as my years
Limp toward autumn
The gravity
Of the Spirit-dove
Begins to shrink again
To a size
More visible
Like a smaller version
Like a Parakeet
And I’ll have one
Mostly green
I think.

-- Fr. Michael J. Kennedy
Cedar Creek, Minn.

Reflection on Mark 10:13-16

Lazy Sunday afternoon,
folding laundry,
children scattered about the house,
reading, playing.

Door bell ringing --
neighbor informing me her huskies
have just mauled our cat.

Running, finding, carrying, calling for help --
the cat dying in front of all four girls
while I’m talking on the phone with the vet.
Two hours of wailing, holding --
learning a first hard lesson
in how suddenly life comes pouncing,
wrenching hearts with loss.

Writing letters of farewell,
burning letters of memory into a crosspiece,
circling a gravesite in the woods,
holding hands,
the girls praying for their “Princess,”
I praying that my princesses will be safe
in this husky world.

Returning from the woods,
holding hands,
Elisabeth, all of 4,
saying unbelievably:
“Dad -- let’s go forgive the dogs
that killed our cat.”

-- Kevin Anderson
Monclova, Ohio

Lauds: The New Song

Sing a new song to the Lord. … Let everything
That breathes praise the Lord.
Psalm 150

Of course you have heard it all before,
the printed praises in the choir book
flung out across monastic chancels,
the dull muster of tired pieties
warmed over from the thousand years of song,
the high milismatic rhetoric of Lauds
rousing snow and sleet, sparrow and eagle
to shout our inattentive adoration,
the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
All our Sinais are valleys,
all our Canas are snacks,
as we crank out the predictable,
the expected, the pre-cooked,
pre-packaged Glory to God.

But you know our hearts from afar,
you know our stutterings,
and our stumblings.
We would not exchange one day in your courts
for a thousand elsewhere.

-- Fr. Kilian McDonnell
Collegeville, Minn.

Poems should be 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, October 22, 1999