Kate and Chet were awarded First Place in the 3rd Annual Poetry Contest, sponsored by the City of Bloomington’s Human Services Senior Program and Home Care Assistance.
Chet Corey is an affiliate with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. He prays with us regularly and often serves as lector at our Sunday Eucharist.
Here is Sister Kate’s first place poem.
COMMON GRIEF by Sr. Kate Martin
Have you known the way grief thins out the heart’s defenses?
Clumsy with my private sorrow, I find myself adding to the load.
Did I choose to feel the pain of the young father who could not save
his little son from the storm that overturned their boat?
Did I ask to be told of the old woman who has been living alone
for years without visitors, without the sound of a loved voice?
Soldiers broken by war, children abandoned, people homeless, hopeless –
did I set out to give them permanent residence in my heart?
It is my own grief that betrays me, that says to others’ pain:
“Over here! Sit next to me and let your anguish carve its horrors on my heart !”
We recognize each other. We nod with understanding before the tale is told.
We listen in the silence of our deepest heart and say, “Brother.” “Sister.”
Chet Corey’s first place poem.
FIRST MONDAY MORNING by Chet Corey
When I took the dog for a walk this morning,
I came upon the neighbor’s Blue Spruce
used up, propped where snowplows piled up
December, burning green against snirt white
until the end of the week, then off to a landfill.
We turned a corner to another Blue Spruce
and Balsam fir and went about our doggy
business, when she encircled in a snare of nylon
leash Katrina, wrapping joyfully around legs–.
Katrina, bundled-up like all Christmas gift wrap,
a haphazard mismatch of woolens, her mother
walking her to the bus stop, both giggling
as China Rose unwound and rewound herself,
Katrina’s backpack as if off to Mt. Everest.
A first grader, turning seven or turned, christened
years before Hurricane Katrina usurped her name.
I started up a rise of hill, turned to look back as
she ran toward a clutch of kids against grey cold,
manic their first Monday back-to-school morning,
“Have a good day at school, Katrina,” I called.
Without turning, up shot her arm, as if she had an
answer her teacher asked. Katrina’s was no hand
going down beneath wave; she was off adventuring.
The yellow bus kinged the hilltop, sunlight slicing
across its windshield, bladed clean as the chalkboard
awaiting Katrina. China Rose squatted, yellowed
the new fall snow with her scent. Hope had returned.