POETRY by Shari Wagner

DECEMBER 2008: POETRY

by Shari Wagner

The Prayers of Saint Meinrad

Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Spencer County, IN

For more than a century, prayers like flakes
of snow have been falling. They drift across

the hillside and melt on each station of the cross.
They cover the graves where monks rest

beneath Gregorian chants, touch the Romanesque
spires of the abbey, soak into sandstone walls.

Vespers sweep through a corridor, past photographs
of young priests, to accumulate near St. Benedict

with his devoted crow and a gentle St. Meinrad,
his bare foot restraining the Devil’s fuming head.

Upstairs in the Chapter Room, a Belgian monk’s
passionate entreaties sting like a blizzard

descending from the ceiling, from the mural he painted
while World War II stoked its ovens. His supplications

appeal to Christ’s own book, Ego Sum Vita, “I Am Life,”
and fall swiftly from scaly underwater creatures

and bright beasts of the jungle, from every sign
of the zodiac swirling in God’s night sky.

Indian Lake

Here at a fireplace or oven on the east shore of Indian Lake those Miamis that had comprised Papakeecha’s Band prepared their last meal before leaving tribal lands c. 1839.

–Roadside marker, Indian Village, IN

“Where is the oven?”
my daughter says, but there is
nothing, just a dirty white
truck, its bed backed

to the lake and a tattered
stand of old cat-tails,
blunt spears
stripped of their fleece.

Sun glints on a blanket
of ice, on one man hunched
over his fishing hole,
claiming the vacant space.

“How will he get home?”
my daughter wonders,
the shoreline melting
into porridge, thin and gray.

Shari Wagner is the author of a book of poems, Evening Chore [Cascadia, 2005]. Her poetry has appeared recently in The North American Review, The Christian Century, and Christianity & Literature. Wagner teaches poetry writing for the Writers’ Center of Indiana.