No forehead smudge or sprinkled ash —
I join instead a community
of seekers and healers,
their sacred vessels sterile syringes,
frozen vials of vaccine.
Miracles are worked at stations
scattered across a bright gym sanctuary,
the ritual swift, the exchange concise,
my birthdate whispered,
the puncture caring and gentle.
Nurse-acolytes lead me through
a ceremonial passage
from anxious fear to certain hope,
wishing me a ‘Blessed Day.’
I will not wait forty days
to sing ‘Alleluia.’


(A note to myself)

It’s up to me to work to defund White Privilege.
It’s my job to withdraw my stockpile of superiority —
the hoard my ancestors and I (Irish-English-Scandinavian-
East European-with a touch of Fin) have been cashing in on
since long before “Point Comfort” Virginia in 1619.

It’s up to me to loosen my grasp, spread the equity around,
make a list of privileges I take for granted:
a seat on the bus, a safe face in a crowd, a front-row ticket,
a first-rate education, the absence of fear. …


I am folding my husband’s shirts, smoothing the seams. I am falling apart at the seams. I am shaking the wrinkles from towels. I am shaking inside. Can you tell? Does it show? I wish I were forty years younger and able to march. I am longing to take a stand. I stand instead in the laundry room measuring liquid detergent, pouring it into the tray while a thousand young people holding their flashlight phones in the air in DC’s Lafayette Square sing “Lean on Me.” I am leaning over the sorting table letting my tears fall on my husband’s…


What will become of you, Year 2020?
Once we look back, will we succumb to cursing you,
or will we emerge from isolation and despair
a better, wiser human family? We used
to think your number meant a perfect vision,
predictions of prosperity and promise.

We’re deep into the year that will report
that nothing public was allowed to happen.
Postponements: weddings, concerts, even elections,
music un-made except in private rooms,
since breathing, singing unmasked together
became a risk too dangerous to take.

We’re living into a year of cancellations: funerals held in silent graveside circles, kisses blown against a…


…Merton affirmed it when a vision
confirmed for him the truth
of our infusion in original Light.

Mornings I face East, repeating
his belief in that Light, but today
rain has thickened the veil.

I cannot see that sun — not even
the trails of distant street lamps,
the flashing factory lights, the

tower with its blinking red eyes,
or the tail lights of lumbering trucks
and cars snaking along the Interstate.

Still I lift up Merton’s words, just
as a flash of lightening pierces
the curtain of clouds — just as the

rain clatters to a roar — just as a
shroud of grey blocks any shimmer
of brightness — just as the room
I’m sitting in grows dimmer.

Even then: We shine.

Kathleen Wade
May 2020

*Thomas Merton, Writer and Trappist Monk


What are the images I’ll most remember?
Mothers and fathers facing death alone.
Doctors and nurses stepping up to be brave.
Governors crying out for what they need.
All of us wondering when we’d see a test.
All the while the president broadcasts lies.

Who can believe those Administration lies?
Here are the images I will always remember:
Coffins in trucks because there was no test.
Mass graves for poor destined to die alone.
ICU nurses demonstrating the need,
putting on more than masks to show they’re brave.

Cleaners and clerks are now the servant brave, certainly not the president…


What are the images I’ll most remember?
Mothers and fathers facing death alone.
Doctors and nurses stepping up to be brave.
Governors crying out for what they need.
All of us wondering when we’d see a test.
All the while the president broadcasts lies.

Who can believe those Administration lies?
Here are the images I will always remember:
Coffins in trucks because there was no test.
Mass graves for poor destined to die alone.
ICU nurses demonstrating the need,
putting on more than masks to show they’re brave.

Cleaners and clerks are now the servant brave, certainly not the president…


“We do not need a dog,”
I said. And he said:
“Let’s just look.” And I said:
“That’s the kiss of death,
he’ll be cute and trained
and pathetic. You know
what happened the last
time. So, no.” Then he said:
“They’re going to take him
to the pound.” And I said
“We’re too busy for a dog,
You know I’m right.” And
the next day he snuck in
with a large black lab
named Tyler. “Watch,” he
said, and of course on command
the dog sat, gave me his paw
and looked up with his sad
adorable and adoring eyes.
“You shouldn’t have,” I said.
And he said, “I know. I had to,”
and I said, “I know. I knew all along
you would. I knew I’d fall for him,
the same way I fell for you.
Now, roll over, both of you.”

Kathleen Wade


T.S. Eliot claimed April the cruelest month

Kathy Wade

Author of a novel, Perfection, and many essays and poems. A teacher, writer and consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio. https://www.kathleenwadeperfection.com

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