Monday, November 29, 2021

Evelyn Mattern

Evelyn Mattern (1941―2003) is known as a social activist who worked as a lobbyist and organizer for the North Carolina Council of Churches. She was born and grew up in Philadelphia, where she joined the convent of the sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary. She completed her doctorate in literature at the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to teach English at St. Augustine's University ― an historically black school.

She wrote two books for Ave Maria Press: Blessed Are You: The Beatitudes of Our Survival (1994) and Why Not Become Fire? Encounters with Women Mystics (1999). A collection of her poetry and prose ― Ordinary Places, Sacred Spaces ― with artwork by Helen David Brancato, appeared from the Calgary publisher Bayeux Arts in 2005.

The following poem first appeared in Sojourners in December 1986.


This bright blue first day of December
a tail wind brings my bike to town,
passing a pilgrimage of pick-up trucks
trailing five floats for the parade.
Styrofoam reindeer on crepe paper snow
pull that empty sleigh of sturdy foil
wrapping paper.
Coming home I pass the small black church,
in the head wind hear the choir,
patched cars parked on the grassless lawn,
trying out "Messiah" to the organ thumps.
Not through the wind or the fire
but the still small voice
of the whisper in the night
from the woman on the mule
to the man in the road
God speaks.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.