Portrait of Sister Carol as St. Cecilia

by Susan L. Miller

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, I ring the bell
of the rectory to meet with Sister Carol,

who meets me standing in the hall
in her grey habit and black nurse’s shoes. She brings

me around to the office, pointing out
the bulletin board where she has printed

Beyond the door, we can hear grades K-8,

delighted at their afternoon break, their shouts
a lot of joyful noise. It’s hard to hear the sister’s voice,

on any day a humble tone, and here
between the rain and my deaf ear almost

inaudible, but when I ask how she found her vocation,
she ducks her face and shyly tells how her older brother

played his guitar for the choir where she followed.
“I still love those songs,” she murmurs,

and I think of recent Sundays when she stood
among the children in the pew, barely taller, shushing

with whispers when the hymn began Sing a new song
unto the Lord.
Surrounded by eager fidgeters

poking their brothers and sisters or diving to offer
envelopes to the collection basket, elbows

and crowns of heads and open mouths around her,
Sister Carol, married to God, was singing alleluia.