“Possible Answers to Prayer”

My esteemed occasional co-blogger abc41 and I were talking today about her recent discovery of Scott Cairns‘ poetry.  I confessed that I carry around a copy of a Cairns poem I read way back in 2001 in Sojourners magazine, “Possible Answers to Prayer.”  The version that appears in Sojourners is ever-so-slightly different than the one on the Poetry Foundation site (see the last stanza), and is the one I prefer.  No accounting for taste.

Reflect.  Enjoy.

Your petitions—though they continue to bear

just the one signature—have been duly recorded.

Your anxieties—despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope, their 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 care 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

even these, the ones who rouse your passions.

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