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Madonna House priest Fr. David May recently published a book of poetry, Tourist Out of Time: Fifty Poems from Fifty Years. 

As the poet ventures deeper into the Ontarian backwoods he embarks also on a pilgrimage into the depths of the heart – his own, that of others, and ultimately the inexhaustible heart of God. This memoir in verse testifies to the unyielding nature of life’s most urgent questions, and is above all an unflinching exploration of suffering, God and the suffusion of an ordinary life with intimations of the divine.

The following is the eponymous poem from his new book. For his reflection on this poem and on writing poetry, see Through the Eyes of a Poet.


Tourist Out of Time


The congregation is moving with purpose now

On a determined course towards breakfast.

Prayers have been offered, and so forth.

The clock does not intimidate them!

They’ll eat seconds, drink tea

And have time to spare to do business,

Assign vehicles and plan the afternoon.

I am the tourist out of time.

Daily, actions take longer, small

Motions move more slowly, feel awkward,

While attempts to speed up only look foolish, clumsy.

But such is life—

Better to reap benefits than harvest regrets!

I amble past apple trees

Pruned, ready to bud, each with a story to tell.

I listen, hear sighs in the night,

Dark vigils of faith they have witnessed.

Then springtimes fashioning fierce flurries of petals,

Waxwings, masked bandits, stealing from branch to branch

In brilliant flashes of sun, feasting.

I hear pine siskins chattering furiously

Over yonder; note vast movements of cloud and wind

Arising from somewhere on mission to far destinations.

Someday I will soar on those winds.

Alone, I see and hear all this before breakfast—

Oatmeal, yogurt, and brown bread, and soon

A loud but tiny bell, imperious,

Announces it’s time to move again,

While ospreys soar then dive for prey

In the great ocean air.


To purchase a copy of Fr. David’s book of poetry, visit