Saturday, April 06, 2019

NPM 2019 Day 6: Minor Miracles Happen Every Day

Back in February, the Poetry Sister's monthly challenge was to write a poem in the style of Marilyn Nelson’s “Minor Miracle,” about a small, miraculous thing we had seen or known. I struggled mightily with the challenge. My first poem was a long poem about a personal experience of mine. I was discouraged because it felt more prose than poem. However, I got terrific feedback from everyone in the group. Tanita wrote:
I sense your dissatisfaction, and think that asking yourself to identify the small, miraculous thing in this narrative might get you from story more to poem (although, in a prose poem there are fewer rules, but it does lack the leanness, perhaps, that Marilyn Nelson's example had).  
Was the minor miracle that you didn't spin out in your car on the icy road after being awful to a nun? ;) That Sr. Agnes Claire came to your room after all of that? That Sr. Bea didn't yell when she corrected you? That you survived modeling contrition in front of middle school students? There are a great many things which comprise the miraculous, in my sight, in this, but what is the MOST meaningful to you? 
Was the minor miracle that you forgave yourself?
She gave me a lot to think about. In the end, I gave up and went with a completely different topic and poem. There were other comments about that first poem, but it was another comment of Tanita's that got stuck in my head:
I wonder how this story would be told from her perspective...
I kept turning this over and just knew I had to come back and revise. I'm not sure this is a better poem, but it's different. Told from the nun's perspective, I titled this Minor Miracles Happen Every Day because I imagine for someone devoutly religious, they actually do.

Minor Miracles Happen Every Day
Which reminds me of her first year teaching
it was January, in Buffalo, and she was late for work
A prudent driver would have obeyed the speed limit,
understood why I was moving slowly

Of course, I saw her behind me,
waving her arms, beating the steering wheel
I’ll admit to easing up on the gas a bit
When her blue Hyundai sped around me
I slowed further and looked her way
only to find she’d flipped me the bird

What?! I hit the brake and began
to swerve. Rattled, I righted the Plymouth
and carefully made my way the remaining
blocks to school. I sat for a few moments
before heading into the office

The principal took one look at my blank face
and asked what was wrong, so I told her.
I may have embellished a bit
She marched down to a classroom
I watched her open the door,
call the crazy driver out
She looked her up and down and said,
“The next time you decide to flip off another driver,
make sure it’s not Agnes Claire. She’s nearly
80 and it made for a rough start to her day.”

I giggled. This was going to be good
I could imagine her students looking at her
aghast and saying “You flipped off a nun?!”
That should slow her down a bit

A few minutes later, she called the office,
asked for me to come to her room
I walked to the science lab and knocked
She opened the door, ushered me in, and then,
in front of 22 middle school students,
took my hands, looked me in the eyes,
and told me how very sorry she was

I might have looked surprised, but
I patted her cheek and said,
“Don’t let it happen again. Ever.”
I turned, habit whirling around my ankles,
and walked away

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019. All rights reserved.

Yes, this is where I sheepishly admit that I was a very impatient driver in my 20s and did, in fact, flip off one of the nuns who worked at the school where I was employed. (Don't tell my mom.) I was called out from my class and admonished by the principal, who was also a nun. And yes, my students were shocked. I did apologize, most genuinely. However, try as I might, I still get the itch to let the bird fly while I'm driving. It is indeed a minor miracle every time I restrain myself. Herein ends my sordid tale.

Oh, and if you're interested, here's the legal take on this particular gesture.
Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law

Happy Saturday all. See you tomorrow for another original poem. 


  1. I'm guessing you won't ever forget this part of your life. I didn't see the earlier poems, but like this new approach of who is telling.

  2. What a wonderful poem! I loved every line. Thanks!

  3. Oh Tricia!
    I'm so glad you came back to it - I think I need to do that with some of the ones I abandoned. It's a good week to do something unusual...