Poem: “Hush”


The nuns of Puebla were disbanded
One hundred fifty years ago
In Mexico

The dark Reform of Juarez came,
O General, you put the nuns away
In private life to pray or not to pray

No convents, nor in clericals
Would Bishops or their priests be dressed,
Nor would as Father be addressed

So were the sister nuns dispersed,
The convent emptied and the prayers
Of all of them dissolved in air

The building empty yet not so,
For in behind the walls they go
Not seen again

Until the century to come,
And how were they so hidden
When all nuns and all religious were forbidden?

Behind the panels that revolved,
In rooms beside the empty rooms
For living nuns, not catacombs

Behind the mirrors on the walls,
Through strict tunnels and beneath, behind
The frescoes, altars, out of mind

Beneath the prie dieu a trap door
Down which a visitor could slide
Where forty, fifty nuns could hide

All they needed furnished them
By faithful neighbors, there they stayed
For more than seventy decades

And if inspectors ever came
They never saw, they never found
This convent underground

But in the thirties they emerged,
The nuns of Puebla had survived,
Their order and their faith alive

And if that faith should be outlawed
Again, again there will be those
Who bide their time until disclosed

They will be welcomed at the end
Of some dark era of despair,
But hush, do not say when or where

September 20, 2011

Pavel Chichikov is a Washington DC-based poet and photographer. He has written for both the secular and the Catholic press on issues as diverse as Russian nuclear weapons systems, Olympic athletes, and miracles. His books include From Here to Babylon: Poems by Pavel Chichikov,  Lion Sun: Poems by Pavel Chichikov, Mysteries and Stations in the Manner of Ignatius, and Animal Kingdom. Pavel may be heard reading his works on catholicradiointernational.com and on pavelreads.com. His poetry regularly appears on "The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov."