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.
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.