Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing



by Caroline Johnson

We have a soul at times. No one’s got it non-stop.
–Wislawa Szymborska


A Great Blue Heron
fishes in the forested canal
balancing on one stick leg
next to painted turtles
sunning on logs as I
bicycle along.

Peddling faster . . .
dreams fly by
with the leaves

Then hundreds march toward me
chanting Polish, Kristos, a boy in front
bearing a giant Cross, followed by
the priest. I begin sweating, try
to plow through, but the thick
crowd does not budge.

Their chorus becomes a dirge.
I am thrown sideways as wild
thorns pierce my shorts, T-shirt.
Blocked by the seekers, I turn back.
Later, a woman from the pilgrimage
vows to pray for me. I thank her,
remove a tiny thorn from my hair.

* Modlitwa is Polish for “prayer”

About the Author

Caroline Johnson has two illustrated poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork, and more than 400 poems in print. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, she won 1st place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row 2012 Poetry Contest, and her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Her full-length collection, The Caregiver (Holy Cow! Press, 2018) was inspired by years of family caregiving. She is part of the P2 Collective, a Chicago-area group of poets and photographers who present at area galleries, and online. Visit her at

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Recovering The Self is a forum for people to tell their stories. Individual contributors accept complete responsibility for the veracity, accuracy, and non-infringement of their reporting.
Inclusion in Recovering The Self is neither an endorsement nor a confirmation of claims presented within. Sole responsibility lies with individual contributors, not the editor, staff, or management of Recovering The Self Journal.
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