a poem by


 I am currently a long-term international lay missioner with the Franciscan Mission Service, living and serving in Cochabamba, Bolivia. For the past year, I have been working in the only women’s prison here in the city–and have come to know and love the women who are spending their lives there. They are strong women, with lives that threaten to break them at every turn. I couldn’t help but write this poem about them–to me, it is a poem of lives that are constantly weighed down by oppression and poverty. To them, it is a poem of lives consistently showered with hope and faith. I wonder what story it will tell to others.

SHE lay in bed
broken back
throbbing head
all nights long

Until the sun crept in
and lit the sky
and dried her tears
and made her sweat
and made her thirst
and burned her clothes
and blistered her skin

Until clouds swept in
and rain dripped through
her honey roof
and cooled her naked form
and watered her
and masked her tears
and kept her alive

Until it stayed
and rose
and thorns
pierced her hands
and pruned her fingers
and flooded her life
and flooded her mouth
and drowned her.

Enjoy more of Catherine’s writing at the Franciscan Mission Service Blog
Photograph by Witstinkhout
Catherine Hope Sullivan
I am the lucky (sometimes not-so-lucky) youngest of five children. Though I am 23 years old, it is still a prime identifying factor for me. I grew up in a world of fantasy that my siblings designed for me- playing My Little Pony while jumping over lava lakes on the floor of the living room, searching for dinosaur bones in "the rocky clearing," an old empty lot behind our home, building wooden houses for my fairy friends in the woods near our house, setting traps for Santa Clause only to catch one of his intricate gold buttons. Life has always been magical to me and I have found only a few ways to capture its wonder: poetry, theater, music. I am currently serving as a lay missioner in Cochabamba, Bolivia, working in a women's prison in the city. The best way I have found to build deep relationships with these women who have become family, is through those same three mediums: poetry, theater, and music. That, in itself, is magical.