The National Catholic Review
Nancy G. Westerfield
In her prime, as Sister Administrator
Of a prosperous house of retreat
And retirement, the magnetic recruiter of novices
Into a powerful Order of worker-bee nuns,
She exercised queen-bee authority over women
In habits and workmen in overalls, a Hilda
Of Whitby sprung to life again, translating
The skills of Liber Usualis to sheetrock
And drywall, a builder as well as her Rule’s
Stellar maidservant. Duly, all wills bend
To the leaden weight of years. In halls
She once raised and ruled, Sister Prudentia
Moves haltingly with the aid of the claws
On a three-footed cane, tapping her way
On the corridor’s hexagonal honeycomb tiles
To the Chapel. A worker-bee flits by,
One of her own hiving; a new queen bee
Sits in the central cell of the office,
Entrusting the late vocation of Sister Sacristan
To Sister Prudentia, now lighting the candles
For Noonday Prayers. Housekeeping the altar’s
Fair linen and roses, having tested the honey
Of all the world’s flowers, she savors still
Sweetness in faithfully keeping the Hours.

Nancy G. Westerfield, Nebraska’s first National Endowment for the Arts fellow, has twice won the National Catholic Poetry Prize of the Catholic Press Association.
Nancy G. Westerfield

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