Norma DaCrema

Old Monastery Garden Courtyard, Larry Jacobson

The Sisters at Morning Swim (an ekphrastic fantasy)

If there were such a picture,
it might have cast in pastel
a wet morning any of twenty summers,
red-breasts splashing in the birdbath fountain
where a spattered, stoic virgin
yearns to blink her alabaster lids,
and someone has left Sister Veronica’s bread
portioned out along the cobblestone pathway
from the bath to an iron gate
between nine-foot fieldstone walls
protecting the swimming pool.

If anything, there might have been a sketch
of Sister Jean’s gentle Samoyed
pushing her slick nose through
those iron loops in the gate,
But not, certainly not of Sister Mary Pat
in her bathing cap padding
along the stone to lift the lock,
her wet toes pressing shapes
like clovers into the patio,
and the morning sun streaming down
on a shimmering pitcher of tea
with ice cubes and lemon wedges.

And not, not ever a panorama painting
of rows of dozing sisters taking the sun
in modest one-piece suits with flounce,
their fleshy pink and white extremities
splayed in chaise lounges,
or idly paging through damp novels
just transgressive enough to justify
modest tittering behind nine-foot walls.

Imagine the view from this window
(had it existed) that summer night
when the last five living sisters
bundled into their van
the novels, the bathing suits,
the baking pans and the Samoyed
and turned off the water.

Norma DaCrema has published in The Lyric, and, most recently, in Red Eft Review. She is a first-year MFA candidate at Arcadia University and a veteran high school teacher at an independent school in Pennsylvania, located on the site of a former convent. The swimming pool remains. It is observable from a single window on campus. 

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Spring 2021