A Call

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Johanna Caton, O.S.B.                                                                                          

A Call

I rose before the sun was up but it was nearly morning for,
outside, the world was waiting as musicians wait, their song
compressed and coiled round and round and round into a spring
releasing not a sound until the maestro’s wand allows their song
to fly and then God breathes again.

And that was how the morning was before it was. The waiting sky
held night in bluest tone and stars – a few remained and gleamed –
and I stood still, and all the garden stood still, too – still:
with every cell and dream alive. The summer air seemed
thick and tasted sharp as silver.

At last a small and feathered voice sang six soft notes and ceased.
I thought it asked if it should sing, if it was right – its little tune
so hesitant. It seemed surprised in heart to find itself apart
from all the universe, the first to sound the dawn – the first to play
its note in the cacophony of day.

But it was right – no doubt of that, and I was finally free to smile
and turn and go and kneel and pray in peace and in the gentle fear
of God who wears his might as lightly as that feathered thing, whose song,
so soft, so small, was all I’d ever longed to hear.


Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun from Minster Abbey in Kent, England. Born in Virginia, she lived in the United States until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England. She writes poetry as a means of understanding the work of God in her life, whose purposes and presence can be elusive until viewed through the more accommodating lens of art and poetry. Her poetry has appeared on Agnellus Mirror, in the ‘Daily Reflections’ blog and The Christian Century.

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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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