With Open Eyes

By Vernice Wineera Pere

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    Editor’s note: Sister Pere is gifted with a seeing eye, an understanding heart, and an artist’s pen.

    She is a native New Zealander, and is currently living there with her husband, M. Baden P. Pere, president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

    Questioning

    If I question, Lord,

    wilt thou know

    that I am merely reaching

    here below?

    If I ask of thee

    patience, please,

    wilt thou yet indulge me, Lord,

    in my need?

    I know one from long ago

    who loved thee

    yet he is remembered most

    doubting thee.

    When I am in doubt, Lord,

    wilt thou know

    it is my love that questions

    here below?

    For inside me, Lord,

    canst thou see

    that my love is strong and true

    unto thee?

    Waiting Room

    We sit,

    six of us,

    and the woman with the child

    knits the minutes

    into squares that she’ll stitch

    into her quilt of time.

    We wait,

    and the silence

    fades slowly around us,

    shadowed softly

    in the cooing

    of the baby at her side.

    We are strangers every one,

    lost among the outdated magazines

    between these sterile walls.

    Our curious but mute stares

    at each newcomer

    reveal an illness

    deeper and more profound

    than any disease of skin or bone.

    I think,

    what if we were the last six humans

    marooned in this room,

    perhaps whirling through space

    beyond earth and moon.

    What then?

    Would one of us break

    the ice between us?

    Would, perhaps, the toothless man

    beside me

    reach a gaunt finger forth

    to offer some touch

    of tenderness

    to the child waving

    tiny fists in the air?

    Or could I look the superior woman

    who faces me

    directly in the eye

    to say with compassion:

    have peace,

    for I love

    and care about you?

    Teaching

    Teaching is not telling,

    for I’ve been told so many times

    by those who’ve never taught.

    And I have heard their telling

    and refused to learn.

    Telling, when you are not so yourself,

    and have no plans to ever be,

    is hypocrisy

    —empty words that are no less

    than an offense to me.

    Teaching, on the other hand,

    is being yourself so completely

    that I see how you are

    and want to join you.

    Teaching is you understanding me

    and liking what I am

    —not what I can become

    by your manipulations,

    but what I am,

    now,

    and eternally.

    Boy in a Sleeping Bag

    First he lays it flat along the ground,

    making sure there are no rocks beneath.

    Then, legs together, sliding carefully,

    he inches between its quilted folds,

    aware that any jut of knee

    or elbow will disturb

    the perfect symmetry

    that is his private bed.

    Once in,

    he reaches sleepy fingers

    to tug the awkward zip

    up to his chin.

    One last glance beneath the chairs

    assures him that there are no bears;

    then, snug and warm in his bright cocoon,

    my son camps out in the living room.