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SUE NORTON

 

 

 

Sue Norton was highly commended in the 2017 Resurgence Prize with the Poetry School, She has had poems published in various magazines. She lives in York.

 

 

Meetings with Enclosed Nuns

 

Poor Clares

 

Walled off from us, even in chapel, their plainsong rose

as if from a single caged bird, roused by sun-slants

that blushed thin jigsaws of painted glass.

 

After Vespers, three Sisters glided behind a grille

soundless as the undead, and offered prayer cards.

One veiled one drifted to where I stood.

 

My fingers brushed hers; chilly and fungus-white,

they shrank shut

like star corals, at a diver’s tentative touch.

 

Carmelites, traditional

 

We never saw them. The guest refectory

had a cupboard in a wall. When it made a noise

a turntable inside presented us with food.

We took and ate, and with no other way to thank,

wiped our plates clean with bread they’d baked

with physical prayer, between Terce and Sext.

We ratcheted the dishes round for lathering,

by how many Sisters’ hands, we never knew.

 

Carmelites, reformed

 

Only a knee-high wall across the guest parlour

reminded us they lived apart. As the brown-robed Sister

invited questions, her head inclined with the attentiveness of love

and her smile played with dimples in her cheeks, before it leapt

 

over the wall

to light each of us like a taper;

and we became like the orange dahlias in the vase beside her, ragged

     suns

expanding in unexpected warmth.

 

 

©2018 Sue Norton

 

 

 

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