by Laura Reese Hogan
Her swollen hands red in peeling service, dutifully brooming
the floor beneath his feet, beneath his spitting, his foul words,
yellowed eyes, beneath his stench and snaking abusive stare;
his crusted lips, crowded with curses, at last goad apart her own.
All the work for the Worker, all the suffering for the Suffering,
all the poverty for the Poor, all the anguish for the Anguished,
stacked high, combusting in angry flare of exhaustion, frustration,
crucifixion. She opens her mouth hotly. Sudden
as a silver shaft of sun piercing the dim cloud she sees a dazzling
face, a mountain unsuspected, even doubted, now shimmering clear,
though the rest of the land still sits sullen in dank purpled shadow:
St. Thérèse of Lisieux appears between her and the man. Smiling.
So startled, her unspoken vitriol flies hastily to the mountain on the
thrust of that unveiled mildness. So reminded, her mouth falls silent.
Even when the vision shutters, the scent of roses remains. Even
when the fragrance fades, the flower sinks sturdy roots down inside.
Even when she turns now, broom in hand, she feels the Mercy bloom.
Laura Reece Hogan is the author of Litany of Flights (Paraclete Press, forthcoming November 2020), which won the 2020 Paraclete Poetry Prize, the chapbook O Garden-Dweller (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the nonfiction spiritual theology book I Live, No Longer I (Wipf & Stock, 2017). A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is one of ten poets featured in the anthology In a Strange Land (Cascade Books, 2019). Her poems have appeared in America, Dappled Things, The Christian Century, First Things, Anglican Theological Review, Cumberland River Review, Whale Road Review, The Cresset, Santa Fe Literary Review, and other publications. She can be found online at www.laurareecehogan.com.