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with Jesus

Scott Cairns (b. 1954)

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
concspicuous 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 passion.

Scott Cairns, Compass of Affection (Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2006), p. 91.

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.

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