The glacial white paint comes peeling away
From the monumental doorframe,
Peeling away in great strips like some fabulous
And the columns all around are cold and mottled,
Pale and dead and grey.
I stand at the grate,
Looking in through holy prison-bars
Rich with swirling ironwork arabesques
Moorish Palermo turned baroque. [Read more...]
The glacial white paint comes peeling away
Noel Bava, SJ
There are things that despite the passage of time tenaciously remain unchanged. And love like a lingering wound, though it may heal, leaves a scar which never fades, never wanes.
I first met Emilia when my mother asked me to collect from her mother, Mrs. Rivera, the fifty pesos she owed her. That was actually the third time that I was dispatched by my mother to their house, which to me looked more like a chicken coop painted white. At first, I did not like the idea of wasting half an hour going there and back. I wanted to be with my cousins flying kites in the fields, but Papa’s thick leather belt nudged me into obeying my mother’s request. [Read more...]
“For the poor souls in purgatory,” I heard my father mutter through clenched teeth. Through the shadows of the upstairs hallway, I could often see my father in my parents’ darkened room, his hands wound around his foot or grasping his knee. He always got ready for work at Sydney harbor in the dark so as not to wake mum. It was his habit to offer the inevitable bumps into furniture for the dead not yet in heaven.
It would be fair to say that mum and my father believed in God.
“Don’t forget to say your prayers, Abe,” my father reminded me each night. He had told me this for as far back as I can remember, bidding me goodnight with a small smile, my mum winking in agreement. [Read more...]
“Inner silence, Mother. I struggle with inner silence.” I shudder as I always do when confessing my weaknesses. My Mother Superior responds with a grave nod of her head.
“A common admission, most often from novices and young postulants. But you have been here almost eleven years. Has your heart always struggled like this, or is it one of those regresses we often encounter on this long walk with our Savior?” She speaks, as she always does, with a sincere desire to be of service, but the solemnity in her tone betrays the gravity of her question. [Read more...]
I. What woman could bind
Death’s bane to flesh,
What mother dare
Her God to mortal;
What womb would bear
That mortal fare?
II. The purging flame
Burns in the bush–
The fertile virgin
Unconsuming. [Read more...]
The sun! A million bird-hymns split the skies, His crimson halo sanctifies the peaks, Flings green on grass and blue on babbling creeks, The violets open dew-bespangled eyes, The shadows spring away in swift surprise, Bright clouds rush outwards, galleons white and sleek, A merry day his golden beams bespeak, And azure oriflammes proclaim his rise. [Read more...]
And all the world was sleeping, save one who wept.
He left the meager comfort of well-meaning friends,
Charging them, Watch; and into the garden crept,
And heard the lie of the world:
That the darkness here is a fell and final thing;
And flesh will crumble for aye in the valley of bones,
And tongues that are parched will never find voice to sing. [Read more...]
O to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!
(Home-thoughts, from Abroad)
O to be in England … [Read more...]
Well, answer me, for God’s love, Christ, speak up—
Explain Your perfect Paradise to me,
Where Clare and Francis sup (quite possibly)
With those who poison your once-sacred cup:
With rapists, killers, child-molesting priests,
Where Stalin (maybe, through Your holy grace)
Meets tortured gulag inmates face to face
And sings hosannahs at the endless feast! [Read more...]
Vita Nuova, xxvi
I saw faded beauty once
Pass me by in a gallery of stippled Seurats:
Maybe she was an English teacher,
A soccer mom in homely new white sneakers,
A nurse in jade-green scrubs.
You would have never called her pretty,
Nor stopped, admiringly at a distance,
Draping a chaste lechery in classical garb with the wan
Affectations of swooning lovers,
And bothered to notice her. [Read more...]