Mother Teresa of Calcutta – a poem by Philip C. Kolin

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

You were a mustard seed growing great
for continents to rest on your arms.

You never abandoned anyone
but gathered flocks of outcasts

who has less dignity than mud-
matted stones or flies on

decaying bodies. You awoke the dying
to give them the last rites of comfort.

A beggar once asked you to put air
back into his lungs. Your smile

gave him the breath to bow before
God alive in you.

Your eyes glowed like cathedrals
solemnizing untouchables,

seeing their sores and stringy
rags as scarlet vestments.

No one ever left your hospice
without a spiritual passport.

Your touch sent them higher
than the pyre smoke of Calcutta

that could never cloud the radiant faces
you saw in heaven’s windows there.


Philip C. Kolin, Distinguished Prof. of English (Emeritus) at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi has published nine collections of poems, the most recent being Emmett Till in Different States: Poems (Third World Press, 2015) and Reaching Forever: Poems (Cascade Books, Poiema Series, 2019). He has published more than 350 poems in such journals as Spiritus, Christian Century, America, The Cresset, Theology Today, US Catholic, Sojourners, St. Austin Review, Christianity and Literature, Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, Emmanuel, and Vocations and Prayer.

1 Comment

  1. A wonderful tribute poem to someone ordinary who simply wanted to do “something beautiful for God” as the book I’m sure you are familiar with tells us. ❤


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