Column 07

I enjoy poems that mix the sacred with the ordinary, and this one by Kathy Miles tells the strange story of a nun who seems to belong to another realm, though not the one we might perhaps imagine. It’s from her collection The Shadow House, published by Cinnamon Press.

The Mystery of Her Eyes

They said it was strange, a mystery,
the vacant look in Sister Mary’s eyes,
the frantic way she read her rosary,

rocked herself with hands around her knees,
stared at angels through the square skylight
as she chanted psalms and sang her liturgies.

Last month she walked for forty days and nights.
They found her on the common at Wimbledon
counting the blades of grass by candlelight.

Father Mark intoned a benediction,
gave thanks and said a blessing and a prayer
and votive supplications to St. John.

Alone, Sister Mary combs a spider,
chews on a cockroach, immolates three flies
that croon a sacred quiver deep inside her.

She’s happy enough in her small bare room
where she says the Angelus, and counts the hours,
recites her intercessions to the moon,

squeezes herself at night through the metal bars,
when she flies to heaven and venerates the stars.


Used with kind permission of Kathy Miles and Cinnamon Press.