To the Copts: A String Poem


This being Easter and only a few short days since terrorists bombed two Coptic churches in Egypt, I want to share an experience I had there many years ago. It speaks of brotherhood and universal love, much needed elements today.

I wrote this string poem in open style, rather than in my usual rhyming formats. I didn’t feel that these unsettled times and that hideous act of terror deserved rhyme.

It is written that St. Mark founded the Coptic church about 42 AD. It is also written that it just may have been the very first christian church…

“The Egyptian Church, which is more than 1,900 years old, and most likely the oldest Christian church in the world, traditionally believed to be founded by St Mark at around AD 42, …”

picture for To the Copts







This modern  church reminds me of the ones we saw on the news.

To the Copts: A String Poem

We drove for what seemed hours
Once we entered Alex,
Following this, then that, set of directions
Asked of folks in the streets.
It was early Sunday morning
And people were out everywhere.
I was trying to get to a church
For mass. Time was ticking and we were
Still operating on home time.

At last we were directed to
A nondescript building
In the outskirts – on the other side of Alex.
We had driven that far.
My friends stayed with the Land Rover
And I ventured in.

The Copts welcomed me.
No challenge, no questions.
They settled me in the front row
With the men…
On a chair,
A plain, wooden chair.
I think I remember the men
Being seated

The women peered curiously at this exotic stranger
Through the slats atop the half wall
Behind the men’s section
With the priest.
They appeared to be standing.

The priest resumed the mass,
Despite the interruption.

I understood not a word
But I felt the presence.

They broke bread at Holy Communion –
Literally, a big round loaf of
Home made bread.
They came to me in my turn
And tore off a piece from the loaf
And handed it to me.
I felt fulfilled.

At the end of the service,
They held out their hands,
Side by side, palms facing each other
And motioned for me to do the same.
They slid their hands into mine,
One hand between mine,
One outside,
And closed the gap,
Hand lightly touching hand…
And slid them out.

Something happened to me in that moment,
A thrill, a chill…
I did really feel I had just received
A kiss from Heaven.

At dispersal time,
We mingled and exchanged
Those magic hand greetings, bowing
To each other
And exchanging

I felt blessed,
And I left to join my travel partners
Feeling refreshed,
Hopeful, confident…

You would never find
A warmer, more welcoming people
Anywhere in this world.

Let good people to their devices
And they will welcome you.

Welcome Friends.


  • I do not believe that it is unethical to share this wonderful handshake.
    It is a gesture of peace and love.

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Judge at 6th Rabindrinath Tagore Awards - International - English Poetry Contest Author of Ann, A Tribute, and Chasing a Butterfly, A story of love and loss to Acceptance
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