In unison, we walk into the store.
Though we are strangers, we nod to one another.
The nod speaks: “I see you. I’m old, too.”

No one asks for our wisdom.
We walk the aisles, invisible, benign:
We are the elders here.

When we leave,
I fall into step behind him.
I take in the long gray hair, the pony-tail.
I take in the faded jeans, a limp:
a grief-filled resignation in his gait.

I know what he’s thinking:
“I’ve got ’em fooled: I’m young.”



My beatitudes

Jesus tells me:
When you are poor in spirit – depressed, anxious, alone – you are with me, in God.
When you are grieving for all those you have lost, you are comforted by God.
When you are humble, when you have nothing more to give, when you are empty, you are in God, you are filled with God.
When you want to be relieved of pain, when you want all to be free from suffering, your prayer is heard. You are in God.
When your heart is pure, free of all malice, you will see God.
When you want peace for all, when you long to make peace, you are God’s own.

When you are persecuted, held in contempt because of your trust in God, then, then you are in God.
When you are suffering because you have been shut out from love, from community, when you have become one with the least in the world: Rejoice! Be glad! For you have received all that you need.

In all things, be grateful to God. For you are in God.

Mary Elyn Bahlert, 10/2019


I am from…

Frame flats with steep staircases, lining city streets.
Daddy’s eyes, sparkling, and Momma’s worries.
Baby sister, big brother.

The smell of yeast bread as I climb the narrow steps,
The smell of beer, always.
Cereal for breakfast,
peasant borscht for supper at 5.
On the back porch, tracing Sputnick across the sky.

Shame:  “we don’t say that.”

I am from
Steelworkers Union 19806,
Bargaining rights and hoping for overtime.

Snowy drifts. Winter winds. Slow springs, long-awaited,
Lilacs in big dishes, coleus leaves, and hollyhocks.

Moving – again.

Up north and cooler by the Lake,
Humid nights, thunderstorms crashing from east to west,
short, languid summers,
sheets fresh from drying in the sun.

I am from
hanging with the smart kids,
The Center Street Library,
laughter, and lots of tears.
Anger that never cooled.  Warm and loving folks.

Books. Books. Books.

Old World people and me,
tiptoeing into the New World.


Mary Elyn Bahlert, 10/2019
after “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon