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Rouault, St. Luke and Emmaus

One artist complements the other. Luke
portrays the scene, Rouault provides a key
detail. Disciples -- two of them -- are on
their way to Emmaus, one named Cleopas;
the other, no name -- clue enough to see
in No-Name, No-One, another one of those
anonymous women Luke proclaims as part
of the Good News. So, Rouault would then be right
on target, putting beside good Cleopas
a woman. Why not his wife? Why not that Mary
who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross,
whom John identifies as wife of Clopas?
Coincidence? Or deeper truth? Woman
and man, together, lost, disconsolate,
questioning, searching, open to the Stranger
opening up, for both, the meaning of it all.

-- Jesuit Fr. Walt Bado
Lexington, Ky.

Reversals and the Recent Acts of God
For Father Oscar S. Vasquez-Munoz
Ordained May 18, 1991, Lake Charles, La.
Died June 18, 1991, Bogotá, Colombia

One month after you lay face down
on our cathedral floor, you died
far away in your homeland hospital
for lack of a respirator.
“He died in a country of trouble,”
wag tongues with little taste
for holiness.

The morning you died in Bogotá,
lightning struck us in Louisiana,
the cathedral bells rang randomly
for an hour. No one could figure
out their electronic brain.
Next door the Court House asked,
“Can no one reverse
this latest act of God?”
The bells have heavy tongues
yet beyond the metal rim
of time are soundless.
The ordination you delayed
to be fluent has passed --
no need now for words.

In your native land,
you are laid out, face up,
eyes closed to us and
covered with the earth
you came from, earth richer
now for your passage,
but facing the heavens
you came among us
as missionary to open.

-- Leo Luke Marcello
Lake Charles, La.

From Christ In Stone

A cypress and the Good Shepherd
mark the cemetery where we carried
your last earthly smile. Looking for
your grave, I get lost.
From the stone statue I gather direction,
but light and weather change:
The sky from clean blue to
chalk, whose meaning is erased
by a breeze; wind turns the pages
faster these days. I walk
to wear off the world.
I expect you at my feet,
to walk right up to you.
There is copper curling of roses
around your years: 1921-1997.
I invert a vase and place more.
Someday, my daughter will walk
and pray for me in this last knowing.
A place hard to come to
and difficult to believe.

--Kathleen Gunton
Orange, Calif.

Mouse Tale

Little by little now, or in a rush,
things leave me. Giving a little wave
as if they’ll see me tomorrow. Only you,
with our thousand ties, denied me that.
So I conjure up a smile; it beams
out of somewhere and finds me when it can.

My heart grows wider, flatter
like the uncircled earth, with these
departures. I didn’t know that walking
through a desert could feed you so,
thrust up cliffs and mesas beyond range
of cathedrals, lead to canyon rims
where you can peer
at cornfields and horses,
even birds with an eagle’s eyes.

There is the tale of a mouse
who wanted to climb a mountain.
He gave one eye to a dying buffalo
and crossed the plain beneath him,
then another to save a wolf,
and rode him blind to the mountaintop,
where an eagle seized him,
then far below he saw wolf, plain, buffalo.
He had become the eagle.

Death can mean that when we are eaten
by what we love.

-- Justine Buisson


clear curtains
yellow flowers

this morning
heaven plays
its love song

and it rains.

-- Fr. Conrado Beloso
Golden, British Columbia

The Day The Fish Danced By

I forgot cares
that weigh
to sit long
breaking barriers
of time
to see
with awesome wonder
a cosmic choreography.

The irresistible
rainbow arch
roseate and beryl blue
propelled from ’neath
a quiet lake where
each piscane’s
tour en l’ars
a ballast ballet make;
the finny fandango
to shed
prismatic dew,
enhancing pirouettes
and grands jetés
they danced.

My soul
lept with them.
My spirit
soared beyond the
aspen-autumn gold
to sky
where all are one
the day
the fish
danced by.

-- Pat Mings
Idaho Falls, Idaho

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, November 5, 1999