This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Johanna Caton, O.S.B.
A long and busy kitchen day was ending and the hot
room redolent with fragrant herbs and wine and apple tart,
and onion laced with butter–ready for enfolding heart
with heart: a table of communion, gift of food’s own art.
I thought: the meal, this savor of the sacred and the sweet,
relieves–in part–a spirit-hunger hid in body’s needs;
I mused on this and, leaving, sought November’s evening, pleased
with air’s increasing chill, and with the purity of trees,
all winter-bare, and stilling me as twilight stilled the day.
I smiled–though arms of deeper shadow made my dusky way
so dim. I breathed the leaves’ rich musk–their whispered scuffle played
its rhythm and the gently moving darkness swept my face
like softest hair. The night was falling, still I mused and walked:
I heard the crow’s caw caw, the thrill of thrush, the raucous chuck
of rook, the little owl’s silly squeak, the smaller talk
of smaller birds, their chirrups heralds to the empty stalks
and petals, pooled and patterning the earth. And then there flamed
a warmth inside the cool. Another pair of footsteps came,
their measure tamed to match my stride–all stealthy, but the same–
as One whose saving life by food is given. I knew his name.
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.