Liturgy of the Hours
Recognition of my body swaddled in flannel.
Blinking in light, shifting hips—the
pain centered joint. The receiving
Roll until my legs drip off the bedside.
Toes sense the rigid floor, consent to land.
A fluid moment: my feet spreading.
Robe, the light-weight one. Sip of water
from night time’s cup. To the window.
as six ducks dip and surface on the pond.
Everyone eats but me. I have coffee
tempting, the cup all but neglected as I
bread bags, turkey slices, mayonnaise—
the standards—from our burdened
Mine insists it remains a happy burden, day
scraping the knife over toast, squeezing
mustard in a lacing pattern, portioning out
I fret over whether the children have fruit.
They have food, I pray.
Here begins rhythm,
lifting the basket,
descending the stairs,
bending to thrust arms open-fisted
into the pile of crumpled clothes,
shoving the whole mess in the washer.
Forty-five minutes I circle
the kitchen counter, shifting dirty dishes,
stacking clean ones,
putting cottage cheese away.
I pause by the window with clean hands,
grateful to see ducks still swimming
on silver water. The buzzer sounds.
I have to pull hard on the tangle
of wet, heavy clothes. With a click
the drier door locks, machine drone
becoming the cycling song of morning.
From here, I see only sky out the window.
Sky and clouds, thin wispy threads
of heaven’s mantle, shawl of prophets.
Scripture lays in my lap, a comfort of
thousands of years’ pleas and praises,
wars, fidelities, all of the animals and
the many promises of God, then the Law,
then Law Fulfilled. What glory in the
flowers he says, what dignity in a meal
of fish and bread. A woman sweeps her house
to find the coin she has lost, her precious
I glance at the carpet strewn with skeins
of my daughter’s crocheting, my son’s
Whatever peace I seek
hides under these irritating piles.
I check for the mallards and buffleheads.
They bathe, flapping up out of the water;
they play, flying a brief distance then
into the pond’s silken surface, making
I decide the window is a lonely place.
I prepare for my pilgrimage to school,
tie the hair away from my face
so my eyes can be seen.
I know I will greet other parents as we walk
to collect our children. I know
I will smile at people whose names I can’t
Two unfolded towels and some socks
still litter the kitchen table,
but we sit down anyway, after I’m finished
pouring the milk. I ask if my son, who has
before, if he’d like to lead the prayer.
His chin tucks
into his neck. “Josephine?” I ask my
“No.” She speaks definitively.
“David?” I plead, and as he dips his head to
he bleats “thank you for this grub so
He looks despairingly at me. “You know I’m
at these things.” I look around at them,
hoping I will concede it is finally time to
With a simple sign of the Cross the prayer
and probably forgotten. But we won’t forget
My room deepens in the dark, a latent space.
There the bed which birthed me this morning,
there my husband already asleep.
I pause to look.
Held up by the house,
this floor, this mattress, I lie down
where I came from, returning
Ms. Karen Jessee, OP - -
a member of the Dominican
Laity, St. Mary Magdelene Group in Raleigh, NC. She writes and
teaches, living with her husband and children near Chapel Hill, North
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