Beyond – a poem by Johanna Caton, O.S.B.


...power came out of him that cured them all (Luke 6:19).

distant, she watches Jesus moving in the raw 
crowd— he sees the sick: stiff flesh and pith, 

he touches all, strong in his long hands—air 
vivid, quick as fingers of flame. she looks 

away.  her sickness? hid.  how can he restore 
a soul?  lost.  her life?  forfeited.  so marred, 

dead.  tell him of her spirit-wound? no word- 
spin can spell it, nor hands plumb rude space.  

too late;  hope’s gone               yet linger—
yet look at him curing by mere command—

and she hears him bless.            she yearns.  
that man—his life burns beyond the rim of loss—

not easy, her giving over to hope
misery has its own perverse claims
the first healing must be remote—
long-distance breach of a shut, shamed

mind: but blind, lame, deaf: see, leap, 
hear: a mute boy’s chatter, his laugh low
Ephphthata—she hears the order breathe,
unlock. She’ll try—she’ll go to him. Go!

she heard
he’d gone to Simon’s house to dine

she sped
dazed—a brook to sea—beyond all fear

she sought—
her self? her life? her blighted life.

she flew 
through moonlight’s maze, shadows heaved

her hair 
came loose, swung long—later remarked

by the host and his dinner guests, 

but she,
beyond their grasp, tight-clasped her jar 

of nard, 
and, panting, clutched it to her breast.  

At last, 
at Simon’s house, creep inside.

He’s there at table—waits

for me.  
weep: mercy—the near sight 

of him: 
drop to his feet, kiss, embrace

beyond this world, in his eyes

I drench 
his feet in nard—beyond paradise

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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