I made a covenant with my hands not to be reaching
for love and praise which once were all my light.
These are for Christ by the most utter right.
I made a covenant with my tongue not to be speaking
of aught that draws me from the Word apart,
much less to interpret Him in my heart.
I made a covenant with my eyes not to be watching
to see what beauty might come down to me.
Christ is my beauty; Him alone I see.
I made a covenant with my heart never and nowhere
to be admitting any lover but Him.
I take for witnesses the seraphim.
This is the document I have been writing
in painful letters for these many years
with shame and failure and a yield of tears.
I made two copies for my own protection:
one to be carried, ready to unroll,
one to post up on gates outside my soul.
Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, o.c.d. (Jessica Powers)
Powers, J 1999, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: A member of the community assists at the clothing of a new novice in the Carmel of Consuegra, Spain on 8 December 2010 | Photo credit: José Maria Moreno García / Flickr (Some rights reserved)