The nun instructs her passing brood,
taming them with a wooden rule.
Compared to humility – obedience, chastity, and poverty
are child’s play.
Her intimates dazzle – sister of St. Joseph!
bride of Christ!
When nuns gather together to pray,
their devotions skitter like bats over lakes,
riffling the water’s surface.
Housed in her habit, the nun feels at ease when,
after vespers, she unfastens her rosary,
slips her underskirts and sits by an open window.
In the night, she dreams of a water lily.
What she believes is scary and ravishing
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium
Mother Superior perches on a bough
above the snow, her eyes everywhere.
Sister Francesca, cranky as an old wife,
reads John Greenleaf Whittier
to a roomful of ink wells.
The mortal remains of Sister Marie Perpetua
disperse in St. Patrick’s Cemetery
while her soul slow-dances with the Lord.