Sister Mercy


I would watch

Sister Mercy’s

weathered hands

work the soil

in the convent garden

I would hide half

behind the bird bath

till the stark white

of my anklet

among green weeds

would confess my presence

Hello child was all she’d say

the smile in her eyes never faltered

as I watched weathered hands

make halos

for flowers

out of dirt

children were not allowed

in the convent garden

Sister Mercy

the old retired nun

pruned the convent roses

and fed the seven

hungry goldfish


in the concrete pond

I would watch

the light

hit them


as Sister Mercy’s hum

echoed like the chapel bells

and weathered hands

made rows of halos ‘round

the flowers in the dirt

Sister Mercy let me linger there

though she knew

children were not allowed

in the convent garden

then: out from God’s bowels

like a hawk from the sky

I would see

Sister Francetta’s glare

emanating from her blacks

as she swooped


the chapel stairs

to retrieve me

from Sister Mercy’s sacristy


–Carolyn M Crane


Pigments of My Imagination

Glaze of dawning brushed

Across unsullied ground

I set my back to morning

And leaning at my cane

As if on a mahl stick

Scumble my sandy-eyed shadow

Onto another day’s canvas

Stretched from too early

To the west too far

–Robert Lee Haycock

Our fiction writer Carolyn Waggoner thought of this poem by Elizabeth Bishop when she reflected on “iridescence.” 

The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
– the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly-
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
– It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
– if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels- until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

–Elizabeth Bishop


Posted on

March 16, 2017

1 Comment

  1. Kim

    Yum. Thank you.


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