Patron Saint of the Convenience Store
In this life we cannot do great things.
We can only do small things with great love.
Think how tired she must be,
after she's drawn letters in the dirt,
jumped rope with beggar children,
cradled a man in the streets of Calcutta.
She can still come up with phrases
well worth writing down.
And here she is, in the 7-11,
buying clove cigarettes to bring
back the smell of High Mass.
Me -- my purchase? A bright red
Tootsie pop, hard-shelled exterior
that only gives way and melts.
I'm thinking how bleak
the emptied city pool looked
on my way over, how it'll be
winter soon so sadness will set in.
She stands unswerving, probably
coming up with another great quote.
It is only through repetition
that we make ourselves.
Her heart, like this store, is never closed.
I follower her out the automatic doors
to the steamy black parking lot.
She slides into her seat, adjusts
her habit, drives away.
(published in The American Poetry Review May/June 2013)