Saint Peter’s Orphanage 1950

02 Oct

Starless night, cold gray fog creeping up steel posted gates;

In spaces of bowing heads and hands being held,

Shadows grow and withdraw under muffled haloed lights.


Creeping through the entrance, they all looked up to see

Guarding the gate; a damp dew dripping concrete statue

Standing with a heel on a serpent

 an Archangel with flared wings wielding a sword.

Forever to be their best friend.


The witnesses passed by slowly. The children, carrying paper bag suitcases

In one hand and the other clasped tightly to each other.


Unpredictable darkness merges into a softly glowing doorway.

Their father quickly blesses himself

Whispering a Hail Mary, takes out four quarters.


Placing one in each daughter’s hand,

And slipping one in each boy’s pants pocket.

He gently knocks on a well-polished oak door.


Dim yellow light emerges.

Sister Saint Helen opens the vestibule.


Smiling, she places the paper bags on a large mahogany table,

Shushing them together, closing the heavy, silent, well oiled, orphanage door

She nods good-bye to the children’s father.


Sealed in, they become frightened like birds

With a broken wing.



Two bedroom flat above the American Legion, a band is playing downstairs.

Hat on the kitchen table, the young father sighs as he pops open a beer.

It’s been five years since the war.

Six years since he graduated High school

And, two years since the boy’s mother left them.

Acknowledging his inability

To come to grips with his situation;

Being abandoned by love, a turn of the cycle begins.

Tears blur his eyes; his heart sinks,

Then floats on Holy melancholy consolation.




(Forty years later, father having passed away in a veterans home)

 I’m sending you, mother and father, your youngest son September 24, 2016

Welcome him to a place where the Butter nut tree

And the bitter-sweet is still called home.)




Posted by on October 2, 2016 in Getting Old, Love, Pine Cone Diaries, Poetry, thoughts


Tags: ,

18 responses to “Saint Peter’s Orphanage 1950

  1. Susan Anderson

    October 3, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Heartbreaking read. Powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. magicalmysticalteacher

    October 3, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I sense both pain and resolution here…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kerry O'Connor

    October 3, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    You have told the story with such precise details that i could picture the scene, and especially the rather terrifying guardian angel, very clearly. That it comes from a personal history makes it all the more poignant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dsnake1

    October 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

    do you still have that quarter? it is a very strong & poignant image.
    sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. he will be in a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laura Bloomsbury

    October 3, 2016 at 5:17 am

    Given the reality behind this poem, I am loathe to say this is one of the best I’ve read of late – but it is the way your words heighten the emotions – feelings expressed without sugary sentiment and profoundly touching in an honestly straightforward way.
    I am indeed sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sumana Roy

    October 3, 2016 at 12:55 am

    so powerfully evocative, moving & heartbreaking…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ZQ

    October 2, 2016 at 9:55 pm



  8. thotpurge

    October 2, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    This is heartbreaking. Circumstance, inability, loss, despair… a deeply moving tale.

    Liked by 1 person


    October 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Very moving. It makes me wonder where the scene came from.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary

    October 2, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    There is such poignancy in your poem, ZQ. Sad to lose a brother, but good to think that there will be people to be reunited with…so he will not be alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    October 2, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    What a story to share, both the loss of a brother, and that background with the orphanage… The image of the bird with broken wings packs a punch…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maureen Sudlow

    October 2, 2016 at 3:12 pm


    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jae Rose

    October 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Such an intimate and powerful story – told with much grace and presence.. And generously shared

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sherry Marr

    October 2, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    p.s. I am also moved by the compassion and understanding you have gained, of those long-gone days.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sherry Marr

    October 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Oh, my friend, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I do hope they welcome him with open arms. I am moved by the story of the young father “abandoned by love”, thus setting up a generational cycle, as families do. The picture of those small four, quarters clutched, at the orphanage gate, will stay with me a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sloan

    October 2, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I enjoyed this very much. I particularly appreciated this detail: “The children, carrying paper bag suitcases”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Paul F. Lenzi

    October 2, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I felt a part of it all

    Liked by 1 person

  18. gillena

    October 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Very stirring verses zq I especially like the first. Oh and for us Catholics, October is the month of the rosary. Our Hail Mary’s should echo through from 1-31October

    Have a nice Sunday

    Liked by 1 person


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