With Open Eyes


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lost among the outdated magazines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.