A faculty member in the adult education program of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, Sister Fran McManus is featured in our National Poetry Month series with “Perspectives: The Bent Woman,” a poem based on Luke 13:10-17. It speaks of fear of change and a woman’s “surprised response to kindness.” Noting that this long-marginalized woman had a crooked spine that made her appear “possessed, someone to be avoided,” Sister Fran wonders how she felt one Sabbath day when Jesus taught at her synagogue and freed her of her disability. “I imagine she was anxious and, perhaps, embarrassed when Jesus singled her out. Narrated as a memory, this poem recounts the speaker’s changed perspective and changed life.” 

The poem is one of a series of Scripture-inspired poems that Sister Fran plans to publish in a collection about people who have encountered Jesus. She is the author of River Watch – a poem and this spring is teaching courses about Joy Harjo’s poetry and the Bronte sisters’ novels. 

Perspectives: The Bent Woman
By Sister Fran McManus 

Click here to listen to the author read this poem

Jesus, I remember when the demon left… 
My spine straightened after eighteen long years, 
freed, healed, and yet feeling almost bereft 
my surprised gratitude mixed with new fears 

Mine had become others’ story to tell. 
From safe distance they’d throw some coins and food 
to the evil woman under demon’s spell. 
Can they or I trust this is change for good? 

For so many years, I had been bowed down, 
my world view shrunk to fit a child’s line of sight, 
if seen, lower than a bug on the ground. 
Took me a while, Jesus, to give up the fight. 

First stricken, I longed to see the sky. 
Enough now to be reflected in your eyes.