This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Fr. Robert Phelps, O.F.M. Cap.

The Canaanite Woman

I have nothing but my wits;
cleverness my tool for survival.
Don’t know who you are
but your presence pours into my grief
like a coolness, and somehow I hope.
I beg but don’t know who you are.
Put me off and I will ask again.
Walk away and I will follow you.
Insult me. I am impervious.
Call me a dog and I will keep coming.
I don’t ask for the children’s food;
all I want are the crumbs the dogs missed.
My little girl is sick. She’s all I have, and
her fevered breath is my faith in you.
She is my reason, my connection to you.
Her illness, her demon has possessed me.
I beg for her release as I beg for mine.
Even the dogs get to eat the scraps.
I only need the scraps. Don’t deny me the scraps.
Cure my daughter. Give her back to me.
Help me to believe in you.

Fr. Robert Phelps, O.F.M. Cap. has been a Capuchin friar for 63 years and a priest for almost 55. He served for 26 years in the territory of Guam in the western Pacific and 14 years in Hawaii. He began to write creatively when on a private retreat in a rain forest near Lahaina, Maui, in 1991. He has one full-length book of poems, In the Hug of a Sun that has Stopped, published by Lion Autumn Music Co.; two chapbooks, Ever, and Point of View, published by Finishing Line Press; and one e-book, Incessancy, published by Book Baby. He lives in a community of friars in Beacon, New York.

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