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Issue Date:  December 14, 2007



The plum orchard is naked,
a blank canvas awaiting
a new paint job
in pink, red and green.

The potted geraniums’ two red
blossoms groom the window sill,
showing off their four seasons.

Snow is falling.
Teardrops fill the pane
like a crying baby.

A red ball flutters,
swirls in the snowy currents,
twisting and turning, blind

as a censer.
It lands on the window ledge --
a red cardinal!

He peeks in, studies the view
up-down-left-right, makes
a sign of the cross with his head.

He takes off like a missile.
He flies back, sways
and swaggers toward the window.

He centers the window
like a compass,
targets the bullseye.

The cardinal flutters
his wings, spread wide
with great speed

the holy ghost ignites a fire.
The red cardinal dives
at the window, drops to the ground.

A bier of crystal beads.
This cardinal will never
enter the Vatican.

-- Maggie Powers
   Athens, Ga.


A coming occurred:
Baby Jesus crashed through
his 100-watt manger
and careened around the corner.
“There he goes,” they cried.
It was easy to follow: the thud
of his boots,
bound after bound,
resounded on the concrete.
They ran, but he outran them.
“B.J.,” they cried.
“B.J., come back.
You can’t just leave.”
With one last whoop and holler
he disappeared into an alley
just past the No U-Turn sign.
They fell behind, panting,
and returned to the manger.
“What else can you expect
from a guy like that?”
they muttered into their collars.

Later, far away
from where electric blankets
went full blast,
the low sobs,
which for some time had been
punctuating the nights,

-- Muriel T. Stackley
   Kansas City, Kan.

My New Telescope

Presence of the dead
this morning
is more palpable
than usual.
When I heard
that my friend Vance
had died after
his long and valiant
struggle, my first
impulse was to take
my new telescope
into the yard
and look for him
among the nearest stars.

-- David Ray
   Tucson, Ariz.

Good News

Another morning!
How to explain
the frosted trees
in the silent
rain-swept morning?
When the hundred
birds of my heart
flutter away out
the open window
into the scent
left hanging
on soulful pine
branches --
there is my home.
Walking beneath them,
I dare not look down.

-- Shannon E. Brewer
   South Bend, Ind.

Communion Song
for Hildegard of Bingen

We are sunrise, sunset colors
from skin
shedding into a million particles.

We are tides
touched by the moon.

We are planets
weaving a webbed path called atoms.

We are fire and ice
our passion jungle
our indifference arctic.

We are water
flowing with our memories.

We are birds
longing for the radiant air.

We are plants
breathing, opening to light.

We are rock
until we crumble into dust.

We are life
if we but knew.

-- Sr. Lou Ella Hickman
   Corpus Christi, Texas

Note to poets: Short lines preferred. Poetry is published in a newspaper column only 35 characters wide, counting punctuation and spaces. Submit poems to Poetry, NCR, PO Box 411009, Kansas City, MO 64141-1009, or e-mail at poetry@ncronline.org.

National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2007

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