“Kloster Stefan (near Heidelberg)” by Stephen Crites


“Kloster Stefan” was published in the fall of 1967, an autumn that was relatively chilly. Its average temperature of 52.2°F placed it in the bottom quarter of Lincoln’s autumns, but the September-May snowfall season that year actually ranks as Lincoln’s lowest in recorded history, with only 7.2 inches of snow for the entire winter. In an unrelated Lincoln note, the fall of ’67 saw the passing of Legislative Bill 569, which created a work-release program for inmates at the Lincoln Penitentiary. At the time, the inmates were returned to the prison at night; now, they live in a community residential center where they can work on their education, attend substance abuse counseling, and generally prepare for life outside of prison.

The Alberta Clipper gusted into my life two and a half years ago, when I was just an intern at the Prairie Schooner. Even after graduation, I kept my “pet column” on the Schooner’s website, revisiting campus every other week and catching up with my friends in the English department. Sadly enough, the time has come for me to bid the Clipper a fond “auf wiedersehen,” as my fiancĂ© and I are moving to Heidelberg, Germany to teach elementary-aged kids at an English-speaking international school. At least now I’ll have plenty of poetry- and Nebraska-related trivia to share abroad! –Tory Clower

Stephen Crites
Kloster Stefan
(near Heidelberg)

Weed patch ruin, stones tumbled down
where the hungering men, sweat under gown,
fought the thistle to win the crown.

Five centuries peaked above
the Neckar, they tolled, tilled, moved
among these stones, strove to love

beyond desire – then bells, beads
and men fell. The profligate weeds
spawned in the shell, spreading seed

from pistil in senseless rotation a half
millennium more. Like an unkept grave
the cloister waits the burning of the chaff.