The Tilling of Dorothy Day
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.
“The Tilling of Dorothy Day” from Litany of Flights by Laura Reece Hogan. Copyright © 2020 by Laura Reece Hogan. Used by permission of Paraclete Press www.paracletepress.com