That mountain trail looks like my life-line.
It comes out of shadow and undertakes a climb.
Beginnings are often so: technique seems mastered,
prodigy-style (which time lavishly disproves).
Then the little plateau. Nothing really amiss here.
And now another steady climb. Applause applause.
And then oh that loop back on myself.
What retro-spirit possessed me? that valley?
that gorge? that drop-lake? No technique here but
herculean climb up a perpendicular gut-rock, no
technique except survival instinct surviving half dead.
But, the line lives. A flatter walk now headed west.
And so, which deadly sin was next?
complacency? fear? Lot’s wife? The line
plummets, down that shadowed place I thought I’d left.
It felt something like being starkers in a blizzard.
But now, cut the drama,
but now, rise again, and climb and climb and climb,
steady now and steady, stay this course damn it, finally
horizon, sea and sunrise meet my life-line and it seems
to be a long arm, reaching over that sea, ending with a hand
lifted slightly, blessing from the bottom up, and look
at that loop – it is a head, inclined like a woman swept
in a waltz. But that is the ending and I am not there yet.
I like me.
I like my mix of the square and the curvy,
the safe and the surprising. I like the way
my square points upward, reminiscent
of Leonardo da Vinci’s John the Baptist.
I like the way my arms gather east and west
in a sea-toned swirl. I like it that I’m earth-
toned on top – earthed, where I need to be,
where my head is, my thoughts. I am a celebration
of opposites: of discipline and freedom, stillness
and movement. And look: the Word is behind me:
the Word from a dark place, not fully formed,
but becoming – oh, and my name is Grace. And under-
neath, a heart-beat: the wash of luminous flesh.
Thinking About the Prodigal Son
He found the way out, alright. Now he needs to get
back in, back in to the centre rich with russet,
warm enfolding. Ok that looks like a sword blade
but there’s no real door. He can crawl in there
squeeze through and curl up, and those golden rounds
at the centre, if he can ever get there, if that tangle could
stop stopping my mind blocking itself by actor’s lines,
lies, webbed, imbedded, making my eyes seep
more binding threads, if only i could just keep going
then that still centre, rich and russet? that’ll be arms;
those tangles outside? they’ll be the air-born warm
swirls of incense perfume from Father’s breast.
those golden rounds inside the little room
those golden rounds, that rood? the fatted calf –
everything food, everything pulsing laughter
all waiting for this hopeless roaming’s
A Short Story
A sunbathed village in France or Spain on a midsummer day? If you like.
Stuccoed walls, straight and resistant, the church’s square bell-tower,
the narrow alleys, and that blue sky, seductive as a siren that
wails in the distance, to warn: a cold wind comes obliquely and whips
your hair, the harsh slap of wind, angry as a tyrannical parent, just as brutal;
tender hopes are aborted here before they’re anywhere near the birth
canal. Brown skinny tree trunks are things to hold on to. Stumble
down bright empty streets, amid sunny walls supported against every
intrusion. You belong in the bell-tower, ringing the mystery.
Johanna Caton, O.S.B.
Johanna Caton, O.S.B. is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey in Kent, England. She was born in Virginia and lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her vocation took her to the U.K. Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century, The Windhover Literary Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, on The Catholic Poetry Room, www.integratedcatholiclife.org, and in other venues, both online and print.
Miki Lovett works in etching, monoprint and marbling. She lives in Mashpee, Massachusetts, and her website link is www.mikilovett.com. Miki exhibits and sells her work from online venues as well as from several art centres in Massachusetts.
12/31/2020 09:17:35 am
Enjoyed these thoughtful poems very much, thank you.
12/31/2020 11:30:02 am
Thank you, David, for taking the time to comment. I am grateful that something 'spoke' to you. Sr Johanna
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