Sunday Morning at January’s End

The skeletal remnants of a dried leaf lies half-buried in the rattan carpet.
The old green and black Hoover lurks still in the corner, awaiting a new belt.
The dog’s blanket, once long ago a carefully crafted tufted quilt, now indifferently folded, drapes over one section of the loveseat, until the warm heaviness of the black faced cur.
The square tiles of the hall floor look smudged, need mopping.
The black net clothing hamper has tipped over, spilling one arm of the well-worn red knit sweater across the floor.
The washing machine whirs on, working hard to clean the whites from dull to, if not bright, at least brighter.
Unwashed breakfast dishes – grits pot, coffee cup, chipped bowl, small spoon – await their baptism in the stainless steel sink.
(Stainless steel shows every fingerprint, but does not rust.)
From Mom’s TV, upstairs, comes the familiar prayers and the wandering key hymns of Sunday morning Mass.
Old cobwebs skew across the basement window, abandoned long ago by spiders who escaped the double glazed trap.
That ground level window is smudged with toddler finger and nose prints.
Beyond that window
Freed from the ordinary
Oh, snow!

Memories Heard

I figured it out.

Why my poetry is often
short lines
with more implied
than said.

My husband likes big equipment.

When I came in from grocery shopping
with his milk
and Mom’s prescription
he was watching a YouTube video:
men working
with diggers and
earth movers.

I didn’t watch
but I heard.

Beyond the machinery noise,
rumbling and grunting
in the background,
came the voice
of the man behind the camera:

“Yeah, he said leave it.”

“I ain’t no worried ‘bout it.”

“I figgah, somethin’ go wrong, it’s on him.”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

The rhythm of my childhood.

Unwelcome Epiphany

Ms. Shirley, twice widowed, is almost blind
and lives in a Catholic retirement home
just about a mile from our house
Mom lives with us
they were on a spiritual retreat
at their women’s Catholic college
when whispers began to ignite
embers of excitement and worry
some hurried to the radios in their dorm rooms
commuter students like Mom huddled together
in cars with radios

The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

I was in a sophomore geometry class
at my all girls Catholic high school
when the scratchy intercom came on
in my memory the principal said nothing first
I just remember trying to make out what was being said
on the radio held up to the intercom
slow to understand the muffled words
I was still puzzled
when screams and cries began to ignite
through the building

President Kennedy had been shot.

Alone at home
buried deep in a data analysis project
I was focused only on my desktop computer
when the ringing phone startled me
my daughter living in Toronto was almost hysterical
telling me I had to leave NOW
and come back to Canada
I was confused and impatient
my irritation ignited
as I tried to calm her down

The Twin Towers were falling.

Wednesday afternoon
i-pad open on my lap
I was listening to a news conference
Virginia’s governor talking
about COVID-19 cases and vaccination plans
my step-daughter sat nearby
working on her laptop
when news breaks ignited
across my screen

Our Capitol had been breached.

They Needed No Star

They followed no star
Brought no gifts
Spoke to neither
King nor angel

But when Mary was sick
Sarah cooked dinner
While Adah entertained the busy toddler

When Joseph was injured
Rebecca helped bandage the wound
While Naomi distracted the worried boy

When their almost-adolescent disappeared
Ruth comforted them
While Leah searched the caravan

When Mary stood
“Near the cross of Jesus”
She stood with her sister,
With Mary of Clopas,
With Mary Magdalene

They needed no star
They brought no gifts
They heeded not king nor angel
They just helped

Hebrews 11:1

the substance of faith
becomes myth
through the years

the evidence of the unseen
becomes distorted
through my tears

can I rely
on prophets or politicians
on priests or pundits
on popes or presidents

today’s truths
tomorrow’s myths
as yesterday’s certainties
are today’s lies

I struggle
for balance
against hurricane winds

by my rope of psalms
to faith’s once steady

Here I Sit

Here I sit
in bed
surrounded by books
paper and electronic
scribbling in my small notebook

Not for me
Luther’s drama
No one forces me to speak
Without horns
“Hier stehe ich.”
“Ich kann nicht anders.”

And yet
here I sit
in my comfortable private bed
in my warm well-lit room
in the 21st century new world
with conscience captive to the Word of God
not trusting pope or councils
no less than that long ago
misogynist anti-Semitic
totally foreign proto-German

Sitting in my comfortable bed
scribbling in my small notebook
no one holding me to account
nonetheless I silently shout
to Pope and priests
with my sisters
Here I stand.
I cannot do otherwise.