“At the Shrine in St. Laurent” by Elena Bentley

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. Read “At the Shrine in St. Laurent” by Elena Bentley.

At the Shrine in St. Laurent

By Elena Bentley

behind the grotto, built

by Brother Piquet, a halo

of cottonwood, maple

and birch, surrounds nohkom

and her Lady of Lourdes

in soft orange, amber

and ochre. Light, I step

along the trail, where

pilgrims gather near

the holy spring water.

I find her kneeling at the

log pedestal, a midnight

and silver plait halving

her back. Curved in prayer

she whispers Ave, ave, ave

Marie. Her voice clings

in the trees, catches in

the parched and dry grass

that crackles beneath my feet,

waking her from reverie.

She rises slow, turns to me

with lucent hazel eyes

she stares into mine,

parts her palms, rests them

tender on my cheeks:

nooshishim—pray with me.

Copyright © Elena Bentley

Elena Bentley is a multi-genre writer and proud Métis aunty. Her poetry chapbook, taliped, was recently published by 845 Press (taliped was also a finalist for the 2022 Vallum Chapbook Award). You can find her poems in literary journals like Arc Poetry, Room, The Malahat Review, and PRISM international, among others. She received an Honourable Mention in Grain’s 2022 Short Grain (Poetry) Contest, and in 2021 she was a finalist for CV2’s 2-Day Poem Contest. She is the author of the children’s picture book The Pickle in Grandma’s Fridge (YNWP, 2022), and she was shortlisted for CANSCAIP’s 2023 Writing for Children Competition (Young Adult category). Elena is the Editor for Grain Magazine.

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