Scott Cairns (b. 1954)
Further Possible Answers to Prayer
And as for Hell, your Hell is deep chagrin,
a deeply wrenching circumstance in which
the soul no longer manages to skirt
what’s what. The fire? Well, that rich searing is
My tenderness as felt by all who have
for so long worked to mute My tenderness.
The only demons then in play will be
the ones you’ve carried with you, the cohort you
have wed, and fed, whose offspring you have borne.
Acute chagrin, which the soul, so long as
she is willing—so long as she is not
absolutely dead—may one day shed.
Scott Cairns (PhD University of Utah) is an American poet, memoirist, librettist, and essayist. He is the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri.