After the rain
our small gathering trudged gravely
through the drenched field. It was burial-day
and we were making for the cemetery, following a casket—
so small—borne only by the father.
It felt a trek as we trailed along. Field’s brown, dead grass
from last year, storm lashed, listing—stems broken, heads
hung and old vine leaves streamed like the eyes of old Eve,
mourning the divine intention. At last, we reached
the hole—so sheer, so deep to plant so small a seed,
But what was happening? Early spring leaf, stalk, bark
and bush seemed to spark as if they had thoughts, as if
hollyhocks: as if they were spirited. Little bloomed,
but what was there rose gladly with mauve
and pink and gentian skirts—innocent,
quirky and darling
and jarring—too alive for me. I felt mown by this scythe
that was a baby. We knew what we had to do: we would
put her to bed. First, the bedtime prayers, then
cover her, tuck her in tenderly—oh,
she was too named, too small,
and far, far
Rain: starts, stops.
Air: stillness, a glistening.
The sun: glints from rain-dropped leaf-buds.
We pray. We kyrie. We hymn to our Mother-Father-God
while the hallowing mother and father
lay down their tiny girl, still-
Listen: tree-swallows are calling a lullaby:
Originally published in Amethyst Review.
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.