Something About a Chapel Wall

by Johanna Caton

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall*

Thus: Robert Frost. But I, I wish that thing,
whatever it is, could see our wall—the stones,
their shapes, the texture, all the varied greys, 
some almost black, some nearly white—forming
a galaxy—a static universe
in small: to stand for what’s beyond the earth.

Our wall was first an outdoor wall, first built
to hone the land—a field, a farm—create
a term for nature’s crazy gambolling.
But souls need bounds like wild things do—
our wall became a fourth surround, where place
enshrines with walls the Architect of grace.

Our wall was ever upright, stable, firm.
It never needed mending—no one asked
the elves to make the stones stay on with spells.  
The stones belong—like sky, like sea, like trees,
like earth—to prayer itself in constant flow 
from age to endless age—they seem to know.  

They have their differences, the stones, but their 
opposing stresses help to make the wall 
secure, and eccentricities can blend— 
and do: ever discreet, the stones cohere
in beauty of their own. As time is long
the stones and spirit make their wordless song
  
to what’s so true it’s peace: where God abides
in form of bread and word. And if, and if 
you happen to be here one day to pray, 
where wall, mere wall, makes room for what’s beyond, 
regard our wall, and then you may recall:
there’s something here that loves, that loves this wall.

*From “Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost.


Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey in England.  Originally from Virginia, she lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to Britain.  Her poems have appeared in both online and print publications, including The Christian Century, The Windhover, Heart of Flesh, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, St Katherine Review, Fathom Magazine and the Catholic Poetry Room webpage at integratedcatholiclife.org.

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