the way I, five, first stood, one hand on the barre,
sand between my toes, nose grainy as old photos,
nails filthy but fingers formed just so, breathing
hiccups, lashing like the sea, the aftermath of crying,
legs a colt’s, stabbing the air. Later, dancing like
a startled fawn, the Virgin Mary in reverse – worse:
empty of grace, but grabbing at it, mind stained
pink, satin face strained, drained, in training. Later,
much later, She sat at the edge of my life, full of grace.
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 Ekphrastic Review, The Christian Century, Amethyst Review and other venues. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.