This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Johanna Caton.
I Thought it was the Rain
I thought it was the rain at first – a distant click and sizzle sound,
the twitch of leaves, the shifting loss of reeds – the smell of it on air.
I thought I heard the wind. I felt the wind and heard a noise
like many winds low-moaning. I listed without breathing.
I thought I smelled the sea and tasted salty spray as waves
swift-chased each other-sliding out and rising up, and up.
I thought I heard the sea gulls – it all became so strange, this
night around the hills with sheep
it’s not the wolves, but this was not the wolves).
The sheep began to baa and skitter, race and huddle, then
I thought I heard some horses gallop far away
hear the Roman guards when everything is still) but this time
night itself began to beat like horses ‘ hoofs tramp-trampling
on their way to war, like heartbeat (mine) a-thud, a-thud.
I thought I smelled a smell like lilies then, and figs and lemons,
then I found that I was running. I was no young man when this
take place but I was running like a boy with overload of bliss,
and breezes gathered in, and eddied, gathered me again like
dancing, and the treetops whirled. I called to other shepherds –
knowing they were too far off to hear, but I was bursting –
I lit my lantern signal, saw that they were lighting their, as light
by light, small lights blinked on the hillside. Then all at once,
(but not so sudden, had I not been told by sounds and smells? I saw
the wind rush in and angels gallop, fly and swish, and fill midnight
with wings. I asked myself (as in a dream) if I was dreaming now –
but this time I was not a dreamer, or I’ve never woken up yet
from all the rain wonder of it.
Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun from Minster Abbey in Kent, England. Born in Virginia, she lived in the United States until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England. She writes poetry as a means of understanding the work of God in her life, whose purposes and presence can be elusive until viewed through the more accommodating lens of art and poetry. Her poetry has appeared, or will appear in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Time of Singing Christian Poetry Journal, The Christian Century other venues. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.