Diagnosis

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Karen D’Anselmi.                                                                                             

Diagnosis

Old habits die hard, like the habit of planning
the garden next season, the next renovation,

rather than savoring a house full of memories,
with creaky old floors scuff-marked by children.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of praying
for health and good fortune for us and our neighbors,

instead of seeing the sun through the fences,
the purple finch poised on a stake like a flower.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of waiting
for a phone call, a visit, the family together;

not hearing the whisper this moment to savor
the bounty in silence at this well-worn table.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of thinking
His grace will come soon, if we only keep praying,

when it’s already here, even in empty spaces:
the occasional greeting, murmur of late summer.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of wanting
one more trip to somewhere, a special vacation,

instead of recalling the light on the water,
already last summer so much for one lifetime.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of living
only among friends here obviously present:

whose pains are so cogent, whose joys are so near,
whose words reach the ear through immediate space,

rather than hearing from those who’ve departed,
who dine at the banquet and sing with the ages.

Old habits die hard, like the habit of dying
one hundred small deaths with each new desecration

instead of offering one real immolation,
in final homecoming, the true consecration.


Karen D’Anselmi’s mother and grandfather had a vast repertoire of poems memorized–both ancient and modern–which they would recite at family gatherings and also spontaneously, sometimes to her chagrin but usually to her delight. They gave her an appreciation of meter, rhyme, and the beauty of words. Karen recently had the pleasure of participating in the Colosseum Summer Institute at Franciscan University of Steubenville run by James Matthew Wilson. This inspired her to join in the conversation of poetry, and she began sharing her poems with others. Karen is a mother of seven (mostly grown) children, residing in the heart of the Hudson Valley, NY. May of her poems are about family, faith, the mystery of life.

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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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