I spent many years walking the deserts and climbing the mountains of Southern California. Now I spend time in the Eastern Forests from Maryland to Vermont and practice woodworking near the Anacostia River. I hold a PhD in Writing from the University of Houston. My poetry collections are The Terraced Mountain(Little Red Tree 2015), The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012) winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, The Language of Birds chapbook (Finishing Line 2011) and a forthcoming collection, The Book of Maps. Honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and Potomac Review Prize. My work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Asian Cha and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Currently I work in Washington, DC. and am an associate fiction editor at JMWW. More at: wflantry.com.
Sister, we came to see you in this place
after so many years. The open road
narrowed and turned to half-lanes as we neared
the monastery where you'd come to pray.
And as we turned uphill, the forest cleared:
we saw the church ahead. A small stream flowed
across a culvert, watering the land.
We only had an hour. I had planned
to speak my life in phrases tinged with loss
but joy made me forget. And so I spoke
of blissful episodes, the interplay
of light and wind and water, to invoke
a sense of beauty, there, beneath the cross
hanging behind you in that quiet room.
But even those clipped words seemed to consume
our moments, and the hour's quiet bell
signalled an end, and waving, you withdrew.
We went into the church, watched the array
of candles burning for us all, and knew
a lasting peace as we heard voices swell
behind a screen, singing a song of grace.
©2016 W.F. Lantry