Step by Step

catholic poetry room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Carolyn Martin.                                                                                                                                              

Step by Step

“I do not ask to see the distant scene—one step enough for me.”
—John Henry Newman, “Lead, Kindly Light”

If it were only the black leather gloves
molding in a pile of leaves or the cell phone
on a freezer shelf, I could cope.
Even unsent birthday cards filed away
with tax receipts are bearable.

More alarming now, I cannot predict
when I’ll forget how to turn
the oven on or write a check
or why the front door key won’t fit.
There are the bills I thought I paid.
RSVPs never sent. The names of friends
I’ve known for years? They’re on a shelf somewhere.

I need to write things down.
The keys are in the kitchen drawer
with contacts for emergencies.
My will is in the firebox.
I prefer white roses over pink.
My favorite hymn’s a prayer for Light.
Distant scenes fade.
One step through darkness will suffice.

Previously published in Carolyn Martin, Thin Places (California: Kelsay Books, 2017)

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey through California to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her fourth collection, A Penchant for Masquerades, was released by Unsolicited Press in 2019. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more about Carolyn at

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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.

Tim Bete is Poetry Editor for 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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