Liturgy of the Hours

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Poetic Responses to Psalms and Scripture


Liturgy of the Hours       





Recognition of my body swaddled in flannel.

Blinking in light, shifting hips—the familiar

pain centered joint.  The receiving mattress.


Roll until my legs drip off the bedside.

Toes sense the rigid floor, consent to land.

A fluid moment: my feet spreading.


Robe, the light-weight one.  Sip of water

from night time’s cup.  To the window.  Delight

as six ducks dip and surface on the pond.





Everyone eats but me.  I have coffee

tempting, the cup all but neglected as I grab

bread bags, turkey slices, mayonnaise—

the standards—from our burdened refrigerator.

Mine insists it remains a happy burden, day after day

scraping the knife over toast, squeezing bright yellow

mustard in a lacing pattern, portioning out the carrots.

I fret over whether the children have fruit.

They have food, I pray.





Here begins rhythm,

lifting the basket,

descending the stairs,

bending to thrust arms open-fisted

into the pile of crumpled clothes,

shoving the whole mess in the washer.


Forty-five minutes I circle

the kitchen counter, shifting dirty dishes,

stacking clean ones,

putting cottage cheese away.

I pause by the window with clean hands,

grateful to see ducks still swimming

on silver water.  The buzzer sounds.

I have to pull hard on the tangle

of wet, heavy clothes.  With a click

the drier door locks, machine drone

becoming the cycling song of morning.





From here, I see only sky out the window.

Sky and clouds, thin wispy threads

of heaven’s mantle, shawl of prophets.

Scripture lays in my lap, a comfort of weight,

thousands of years’ pleas and praises,

wars, fidelities, all of the animals and spheres,

the many promises of God, then the Law,

then Law Fulfilled.  What glory in the simple

flowers he says, what dignity in a meal

of fish and bread.  A woman sweeps her house

to find the coin she has lost, her precious keeping.

I glance at the carpet strewn with skeins

of my daughter’s crocheting, my son’s trading cards.

Whatever peace I seek

hides under these irritating piles. 





I check for the mallards and buffleheads.

They bathe, flapping up out of the water;

they play, flying a brief distance then skidding

into the pond’s silken surface, making spray.

I decide the window is a lonely place.


I prepare for my pilgrimage to school,

tie the hair away from my face

so my eyes can be seen.

I know I will greet other parents as we walk

to collect our children.  I know

I will smile at people whose names I can’t recall.





Two unfolded towels and some socks

still litter the kitchen table,

but we sit down anyway, after I’m finished

pouring the milk.  I ask if my son, who has prompted us

before, if he’d like to lead the prayer.  His chin tucks

into his neck.  “Josephine?”  I ask my daughter.

“No.” She speaks definitively.

“David?” I plead, and as he dips his head to one side

he bleats “thank you for this grub so lovingly prepared.”

He looks despairingly at me.  “You know I’m no good

at these things.”  I look around at them, all waiting,

hoping I will concede it is finally time to eat.

With a simple sign of the Cross the prayer is over,

and probably forgotten.  But we won’t forget dinner.

Not ever.





My room deepens in the dark, a latent space.

There the bed which birthed me this morning,

there my husband already asleep. 

I pause to look.

Held up by the house,

this floor, this mattress, I lie down

where I came from, returning

the gift.





-- By:  Ms. Karen Jessee, OP - - a member of the Dominican Laity, St. Mary Magdelene Group in Raleigh, NC.  She writes and teaches, living with her husband and children near Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


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