Jan Ball

catholic rehab


My sister pulls the blankets under her chin

as I feel I might explode from the radiator

heat in this Catholic rehab facility but she’s

had a fever since they transferred her

from the hospital yesterday where she

survived the removal of an infected hip

replacement and abscess on the psoas muscle,

so far.


Many of her friends depicted in the hallways

to room 108, bed 2, are here recovering,

so empathize with her: Jesus sweating

in Gethsemane, as if he has the flu,

Mary in various depressive visages: swords

bursting  from her heart as Mater Misericordia,

for one, and down the hall, St. Lawrence

with sores fit for a burn unit. I also recognize

pale St. Francis surrounded by docile wolves

and squirrels possibly rabid, as well as

St. Sebastian catching a draft in his underwear,

chest, arms and thighs speared with arrows,

St. Caecilia at her organ with her sliced neck

in need of a bandage and even Father Demian ,

exposed to leprosy from his Molokai ministrations.


I know them all from another life when

I wore the habit, a “professional Catholic”

I like to say at dinner parties, sipping

Sauvignon Blanc then laughing.  Now,

I don’t believe in myths. However, just

this once, I need them to be true.


Jan Ball started submitting poems for publication in 1998, & 200 of them have been published in journals such as: Atlanta Review, Calyx, Connecticut Review, Nimrod, Phoebe and Verse Wisconsin. Jan has published two chapbooks: accompanying spouse (2011) and Chapter of Faults (2014) with Finishing Line Press.

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