To conclude this weekend’s return-from-holiday posting frenzy, a poem by Scott Cairns that knocked me sideways when I read it this morning:
Possible Answers to Prayer
Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,
relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.
Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.
Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.
Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—
these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.
More Scott Cairns poetry here. The collection cited as the source for these poems (Philokalia) is out of print and expensive to obtain, but most of them are also available in the in-print volume Compass of Affection. With thanks (genuine if also slightly ironic) to DJP, who inadvertently introduced me to Cairns’s poetry as a consequence of disliking it himself.