Copyright (c) 2002 First
Things 122 (April 2002): 7, 9, 20.


The Slender Girl


The morning slipping past the white

Of curtains is a girl, slender

As April in a wistful light,

With naive air, unsure, tender,

Offering herself like daffodils

To cruelty from belated snow.

A sudden bird quells doubt with trills

Of wellspring love. Our girl will grow.

”Robert Greer Cohn

Hic Iacet


Beneath the snow lie fallen leaves,

dead grass below, then graves.

Our lives begin as green as spring

but we must learn what winters bring.

All life’s layers lie upon

one another and this stone.

”Ralph McInerny

Nazareth Hall


At school from a pulpit niched

into the wall the Martyrology was read

to boys awaiting lunch, and while they ate

the images of racks and wheels and fire

prepared them for the long digestion

of truths for which they hoped to die.

Waiters brought on trays the heads

of witnesses, among the tables mortal

boys moved toward their later lunch.

All that was half a century since.

How many now lie dead of natural causes,

disease, jammed hearts, or accident,

of anything but Dioclitean cruelty?

”Ralph McInerny