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Writers-in-Progress Walking (Draft)
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By N/A
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Writers-in-Progress Walking
for Sister Préjean (c) Maureen Glaude

You used to walk along
the sidewalk skirting the Rideau canal
and the campus grounds
I 'd weave my way
along years later

the route bordered by
old brownstone houses,
black-wrought railing
trimmed by low white cement posts
over water
catching clouds' profiles
skies' four seasons

on the festival of Holland's best
each May 24th weekend
Queen Victoria's birthday
flotillas for
flowered boat fiesta
tulips in postcard colors
Brown's Inlet down the bay
and three-storied mansions
attics now apartments
strips of residence and study halls
in fall, our burnt gold best

on branches bragging maples'

before escape
crisp with the eager flight
pages taunting to be learned
as students scurried forth

here perhaps some elements of
your famous manuscript
crystallized debut
in your mind

I've read that writing's passion
whispered to you on the winds
of Ottawa walks
by the Rideau
or further down, on Main
at St. Paul's Seminary

you formed an author's dreams
along this path
I'd physically follow
a few years out of step
a few countries out of strength perhaps
from you

studying brought me there

my dreams to pen story
philosophies and poems
plays and acting parts
but I only knew
a few years after
seeing your novel as a film
"Dead Man Walking"
...admiring the story
Sarandon in it
I struggled a bit with Sean Penn's accent
so Southern I lost some words
til I watched it again

struck by the script and deliveries
compassion of the nun

I cried
saw an interview with the lead star
playing opposite the nun
where the gentle power
overwhelming aura
and your vision
were described

But it was later that I learned
in an Ottawa's local paper
you were coming here

to give a lecture
at St. Paul's
where you had studied years ago
same simple halls and rooms
set apart from University of Ottawa
amongst the priests-in-training
same lounge and view of downtown
as I'd explored in my late teens, early twenties

Communications students being sent
from Waller St. Arts to St. Paul's campus
a bus trip some mile or more away
taking me, at nineteen,
Protestant girl
learning Catholic ways
a fish out of water
making friends in my classes
in a school full of young men
devoting their lives to a calling...
I'd see them in the coffee lounge
by the snack machines
so young and just like the other guys from school...
but not...
I was
mesmerized by our chapel and
the many campus steeples
a walking campus

rich with architecture
from old days
St. everyone's it seemed to me
was every church
but who knew

I missed meeting
a woman like you?
a writer who took my same route
just a while
a woman who'd devote years
to making loud proclamation
gains and fame

but for the cause
of your conviction
against human extermination
seeing forgiveness, rebirth or hope
in sentenced souls

even after their evils?
(or sometimes false convictions)
Dead Man Walking's
Sister Prejéan

what notes in embryo did you make
in our old buildings?

on our Queen Elizabeth Driveway
what thoughts helped guide you,
like Mother Teresa,
to fight the cause of our sorrier sides
of life?

When I discovered your history here
followed by the night you packed the hall
for your reading
a year of so ago,
I remember thinking
imagine if I'd even once
picked up her pen?
intercepted her strolls?

even for a moment
known her spirit
courage, credos?

it's enough to make me cross myself
in awe

Sister Préjean
a living heroine
passed my way
ahead of me by miles
but almost by my side
~ ~ ~

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Submitted: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

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