Ordinary Life

catholic poetry room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Barbara Crooker.                                                                                                                     

Ordinary Life

This was a day when nothing happened,
the children went off to school
remembering their books, lunches, gloves.
All morning, the baby and I built block stacks
in the squares of light on the floor.
And lunch blended into naptime,
I cleaned out kitchen cupboards,
one of those jobs that never gets done,
then sat in a circle of sunlight
and drank ginger tea,
watched the birds at the feeder
jostle over lunch’s little scraps.
A pheasant strutted from the hedgerow,
preened and flashed his jeweled head.
Now a chicken roasts in the pan,
and the children return,
the murmur of their stories dappling the air.
I peel carrots and potatoes without paring my thumb.
We listen together for your wheels on the drive.
Grace before bread.
And at the table, actual conversation,
no bickering or pokes.
And then, the drift into homework.
The baby goes to his cars, drives them
along the sofa’s ridges and hills.
Leaning by the counter, we steal a long slow kiss,
tasting of coffee and cream.
The chicken’s diminished to skin and skeleton,
the moon to a comma, a sliver of white,
but this has been a day of grace
in the dead of winter,
the hard cold knuckle of the year,
a day that unwrapped itself
like an unexpected gift,
and the stars turn on,
order themselves
into the winter night.


Barbara Crooker‘s work has appeared in many journals, including The Christian Century, Christianity & Literature, The Christian Science Monitor, America, Sojourners, Saint Katherine Review, Windhover, Perspectives, The Cresset, Tiferet, Spiritus, Assisi, Dappled Things, Ruminate, Rock & Sling, Radix, and Relief. Her books are:  Radiance (Word Press, 2005), winner of the 2005 Word Press Poetry prize and Finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, 2006;  Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press, 2010); Gold(Cascade Press, a division of Wipf and Stock, in their Poeima Poetry Series, 2013); Small Rain (Purple Flag, a division of Virtual Artists Collective, 2014); Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (Future Cycle Press, 2015); Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017); The Book of Kells (Cascade Press, Poeima Poetry Series, 2018); and Some Glad Morning, forthcoming in the Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press), fall 2019.

Ordinary Life was originally published in Selected Poems, by Future Cycle Press.


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About the Author

Tim Bete, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page or CatholicPoetry.org.


Tim Bete is Poetry Editor for IntegratedCatholicLife.org and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Tim's poetry has appeared in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, The Asketerion, and the Poet and Contemplative Blog of the Discalced Carmelite Friars (Province of St. Therese). His first book of poetry is The Raw Stillness of Heaven, of which one reviewer wrote, “If you are Catholic and think that you do not like poetry, this book will change your mind.”

Tim is former director of the national writers' workshop at the University of Dayton—a Catholic, Marianist university. He's a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS) and often trades poems with his oldest daughter, who is a Dominican Sister. He says she's the best writer in the family.

Tim's writing has also appeared in several editions of the Amazing Grace anthology series (Ascension Press), theChristian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest magazine, and numerous parenting magazines. His latest book is Wanderings of an Ordinary Pilgrim

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