By Jeanine Stevens

For Lent, a healing tree stood

in the sanctuary. We wrote a name

or condition that needed attention

on a colored ribbon: green, pink, lavender

and placed the silky strands in high branches.

I remember cathedrals in Mexico

where peasant women sold rosaries and replicas.

Some candles were bent, but I found

a few new and unlit.

In Ohio, at the small Methodist Church

built with bricks donated

by my great-great grandfather,

I sat in quiet contemplation thinking

of other petitions: a note hastily written

and cast off in a small stream,

or folded in the chink of a wall,

or tucked in rocks at Monterrey Bay,

or torn and tossed into the air, carried

off by gulls mistaking the bits for wafers.

It took a long time to compose

the message I secured in the netting

at Mary’s House in Ephesus.

“Peace in the family,” a good place to start.

Those were not big wars, but minor

skirmishes, little disruptions, but enough

to make me wonder about love and devotion.

What if I hadn’t pressed for these things?

I will never know what works.

In the Mosque I remove my shoes,

tuck curls under a scarf blooming

with crimson tulips. I’m astounded

at the brilliance of the blue cerulean tiles.


Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis, and has an M.A. in Anthropology. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt and one of two finalists for the William Stafford Prize. Author of Sailing on Milkweed, her latest chapbook is “Needle in the Sea,” from Tiger’s Eye Press. Poems have appeared in Poet LoreEvansville ReviewPearlNorth Dakota ReviewPerfume RiverAlehouse and Quercus Review.

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