Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet living in Galway, Ireland and the author of twelve books of nonfiction and two collections of poems: Dreaming of Stones (2019) and The Wisdom of Wild Grace, forthcoming in fall 2020 from Paraclete Press. Her poems have appeared in several journals in North America, UK, and Ireland including Tales from the Forest, Crannog, Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, impspired, Bangor Journal, Tiferet, Spiritus, Presence, and Anchor. You can find more of her writing and poetry at AbbeyoftheArts.com.
St. Clare and the Cat
She reclines with a sigh, an ache spreads through her, she knows she must not fight this time of rest, reaches for her yarn which slips from her hands across the stone floor spinning like the cosmos. Her cat, waiting for a moment like this, pounces on the fleeing fleece, bats the ball of blue between paws, as it unravels, tangles around his tail, the saint can’t help but laugh, grateful for the levity of forgetting herself, and the yarn is back in her hands in a flash. The cat settles his warm ribs into her lap and watches closely as she begins to weave new worldsfrom wool and joy.
St. Francis and the Wolf
The city trembled at the wolf outside its gates, fangs fierce, howling with hunger, fur thick with blood. Francis approaches softly, palms open. When the wolf lunges his breath stays slow and steady, looks with eyes of love, smiles and bows and the beast whimpers, licks the monk’s salty face, tail a brown banner waving, and follows Francis through the streets like an old friend, to the wonder of all. Except perhaps it’s not such a wonder that when we open the gate to all that is fierce and fearful inside us, when we hold our hands like begging bowls, our hearts like candles, the wolf within will want to lay its soft head upon our laps and we see there is no more wolf and me just one wild love, one wild hunger.
My Last Poem
(after Br. Paul Quenon) My last poem will savor your warm hand pressed into mine, my other hand resting on the dog’s wiry fur, chest rising and falling, she rolls over to display her belly telling me I am not done quite yet. My last poem will look around the room, full of many unread books, and I will finally be able to rest into all that is unfinished, the dishes still piled by the sink from our last dinner together, hearing the clink of glasses, friends asking for more asparagus, knowing there is so much more than food here. My last poem will see a vase of yellow tulips on the table, a single petal falling, a golden bowl of gladness welcoming its slow demise, and the open window.