After the rain – a poem by Johanna Caton OSB

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, 
so black.

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 
too real. 

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-
born.  

Listen:  tree-swallows are calling a lullaby:
delicate alleluias.  

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun.  She was born in the United States and lived there until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England, where she now resides.  Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century, The Windhover, The Ekphrastic Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Catholic Poetry Room, and other venues, both online and print. 

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