This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Johanna Caton.                                                                                                                    
A Momentary Sound of Hail
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along to Jesus
who had been caught committing adultery. Jn. 8:3

deposit me
filth to them
with some rabbi
for judgment I shake
cradle one arm grip it try
to stop shaking study his feet
long toes high arch scribes pace
so beasts prowl. We caught – a fact!
we caught this woman in the very act!
Sir? a sneer.

He waits.
feet flex and
heels lift, kneels
He writes in the dust
bodies stink the question
festers I hear the spider spin
its web the worm turn in boring.
He stands his feet apart and firm He
makes one remark: Let him be first to stone
that has no sin.

again He
kneels writes

roaring in
my brain, hear:
stones slowly drop,
first one, then one, and
one and one and one and then
a momentary sound of hail, then done.
They go.

walk to me
with quiet care
I hear His breathing.
Is this life? Woman, where
are they? Has no one condemned?
No one, Sir. Nor do I. Go, and sin no more.
I drag my eye from Feet, slowly walk. So still
the hanging air, He hasn’t disarranged a thing. Except:
very bone is changed.

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun from Minster Abbey in Kent, England. Born in Virginia, she lived in the United States until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England. She writes poetry as a means of understanding the work of God in her life, whose purposes and presence can be elusive until viewed through the more accommodating lens of art and poetry. Her poetry has appeared, or will appear, in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Time of Singing Christian Poetry Journal, The Christian Century, and other venues. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Print this entry