Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Lines for a Sidewalk Sanctified Where Matt Talbot Died"

One of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most charismatic poets, international speaker, mother of seven children, and a member of the Saint Albert's Chapter of Lay Dominicans, the late Mary Rudge (1928-2014) published multiple books of poetry, including For Ireland (2011). One poem from that volume is presented here:

Lines for a Sidewalk Sanctified Where Matt Talbot Died

On this ordinary place where anyone can walk,
sanctified by pain and faith, in the path of holy,
you, Matt Talbot, of the sidewalk,
can lead us.

The chain scars wrapping your body showed
how you bound it against cravings,
bound it to God,
and the rosary, a link of prayer,
beads on a chain,
these were the strengths you could claim.
You pit your slight self with the power of prayer,
strength of spirit,
against the centuries
of what medicine, science, sociology, psychology,
could claim about addiction—that the
body craves and craves again
against its will.

For the love of God and your own sake,
and the poor mother so hard pressed
to find food out of thin air to feed you,
when all you had belonged to drink,
all you had earned from hard labor was given,
you pawned vest and coat and boots,
pledged-away for next week’s wage
for now a swallow, desperate, captive,
unable to think free, needing to drink.

For your sake and your salvation,
you wrapped yourself in chains,
drug them on your body through life,
vowing to never be any other prisoner
but that of love of God, accept
the body God’s perfect gift to return to God.
Wrapped as a gift, falling in your chains
on the sidewalk,
Were you bead on the Holy Mother’s
Rosary, she who prays sinners be healed?

This is your legacy,
to all us little people who are so human:
lifetime of hard labor,
lifetime of little schooling,
lifetime of innocent wonder
at love’s praises, that
and beyond lifetime, that other
holy mother who clasped you to her
by chain of rosary, pulled you
into heaven and free.

Note:  One source of information about Mary is