Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on


Once I was a nun

And more than once


Once I lived

in a wattle hut

and heard Her voice—

not the harsh voice of

the one who pushed

with impatient hands—but

a bird-sweet voice of comfort.


Sent to the convent

as soon as allowed

subtract one hungry mouth from home

the youngest postulant

I lived out my days between stone

scrubbing, peeling, sweeping,

never colder or hungrier than in the hut

keeping the ember of Her love.

Prayer, silence, obedience

until a grave pestilence

took me to earth.


And once again I was a nun

choosing the cloister over

an abhorrent marriage

with no regrets, no longings

for tapestries, brocades, or roast swan

Oh, the freedom to revel

in great books, spirited discussions

and the solitude of

my own bed.  The silence,

the discipline,

the peace.


And once again I was a nun,

living the vow of poverty

among the tenements

with the old and the sick

hanging rags on clotheslines,

scrubbing vermin from scalps

until the fever found me

I was but flotsam when it left

palsied, blurred eyes,

but able to sing the offices.


And this time round

I am not a religious,

having detoured into a maze

of mandates first 

a childhood void of catechism

older, but no wiser

a lost seeker somehow turned

to a life of service

no wimple or habit needed

to surrender

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s