Avatar photo

Murmurations in the Ninth Hour

One of my colleagues
expresses her distress
about a Muslim student
who wears hijab
in the classroom—
afraid it might
disturb some of the veterans
in class.
As she expresses, maybe,
her own anxiety,
I can’t help but notice
the cross around her neck
with the body of Jesus
hanging with that
horrified pained look of,
Father, why have thou
 forsaken me. 

Thoughts drift back
to my own childhood,
late for Mass
running up the steps,
with my sister and
coming from the rectory
I saw the nuns
in their black tunics, scapulars and wimples
flapping in the wind;
a murmuration of starlings
with beautiful black wings,
bearing witness.
My grandmother, realizing we’d forgotten
our veils, or at least a hat,
stopped us,
pinned a piece of tissue on our heads
with a bobby pin.
In we went,
blessing ourselves with Holy Water,
ready to serve God.

And now, today, my Orthodox Jewish neighbor
asks me, when visiting for a cup of tea,
would I mind, could she
remove her sheitel
her hair beneath,
as beautiful as
a flock of goats
capable of
disarming any man.

I tell my fellow teacher,
“Don’t worry.”

Thinking one day
in the Ninth Hour,
we will turn
that which now
holds us;
make it our own
ascension to strength
and move unabashed and wild
blackbirds into the sky.


  1. Kathleen Konicek-Moran on

    So much that is beautiful in this work: lovely words, intersections with different religions, a hopeful ending. I hope to see the Ninth Hour before I die.

Join the conversation