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5 Poems

5 Poems

by Megan McDermott

The grieving women; Albert Bloch

Job’s Wife Wants You to Know

God visits grieving women too,
those who tell their husbands
to curse God and die
because they are angry
and trying to get through
losing the ones they carried –
what had made their lives
worth living, according
to husbands and fathers
and mothers and neighbors,
who tied their value
to fruitfulness and fruitfulness
to one kind of fruit.

God visits grieving women too,
those whose husbands roar
their own grief at the sky
but only find moralizing
platitudes to shut up wives.

God visits grieving women too,
those neither nice or neat,
whose veneers of wifely
respect have been grinded
down by loss to reveal
the bitterness built
by years of pretend.

God visits grieving women too,
and it’s sometimes like this:
no whirlwind, nothing worth
a book, only a stillness cutting
through shoulder-shaking sobs,
almost electric, a tiny, insistent
sense that she is seen, though
the text looks past her, though
her husband doesn’t see.



When David Was Captain of the Football Team

Bathsheba at the bath, the party, the short skirt, the beer cans.

He felt her up on the futon, some basement bedroom. “No, I have a boyfriend, I have a boyfriend,” she said, but he ignored it. He was king, and she looked so good.

After, they stayed lying on that futon like they had all the time in the world, like they wouldn’t be grounded for getting home so late, like they could be real lovers. She liked farce better than lumping her life in with CNN articles about end-of-summer bashes and sixteen-year-old rapists. She could rewrite it – transfigure succumbing into welcome, focus on involuntary pleasures, the way she curled into that kiss on her shoulder even as she said no.

Reflection on Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Temptation of Saint Anthony”

On a rat’s back
a Marian figure rides
with a swaddled infant –

a sign, supposedly,
that this vision
does not have the dignity
of the real story
or real holy family –
but wouldn’t Mary
have rode one
if that were her only

This woman of assent
to adventures and also to pain.
Who knows what could’ve

arrived, a child fathered
by Spirit? Her baby
could’ve been a Boschian
nightmare, three
heads maybe, torso of a dragon.

She would’ve cradled
him anyway, betting his strangeness
might make rulers stumble.

At Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, England

Formerly a refectory,
now it is ruins and grass

across from a soccer field
where boys play and think little

of God. But maybe monks
never thought of preservation

anyway. Daily bread fuel
not for big dreams, but hearty,

small ones. Standing here,
did a monk hope for a favorite

dish? A whiff of which
was assurance enough

of the coming kingdom,
no need for history to mark him.


Lessons from Canterbury Cathedral

I wondered what you were making
of patience and attention – ongoing themes
in that storied cathedral, where professionals
explained intricacies of crafts I had never
considered. Was it simply that I must slow
– breathe? Reading a psalm back in my U.S.
apartment, it occurs to me that this was
also an offering of vision – your M.O.
with me, with us, on display in a conservator
who spends months re-binding an aging document,
waits weeks between steps so the pages might set
and come into themselves again, or perhaps
in the women of the stained glass studio
who spend their days resurrecting bygone art,
who extracted windows from places
of glory in order to restore shine.

That makes me the glass that looks gray
when laid out on a table, surrounded
by tools I can’t name. To much awe,
you lift me up – medieval and fragile
and hole-ridden – into the studio sunlight,
and I once again convey all the colors
that were always mine. Then, with care
so expert it is breathtakingly casual,
you place me back on the table again,
to return to and return to and return to
until I can be set in my prior place,
capable, once more, of streaming your story.



Megan McDermott graduated from Yale Divinity School’s Berkeley Divinity School and Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music.She will be be ordained soon to the diaconate, and to the priesthood sometime in 2019. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a number of journals related to faith and literature, including The Windhover, Rock & Sling, The Cresset, Letters, and Saint Katherine Review.


photos by Megan McDermott



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