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Scott Cairns (b. 1954)

Idiot Psalm: With Fear

Μετά φόβου Θεού, πίστεως καί ἀγἀπης, προσέλθετε

—a psalm of Isaak, sore afraid

Forgive, O Fire, Forgive, O Light, the patent,
fraught impurity of we who thus presume
to open unclean lips, availing now
a portal for Your purity. Forgive
the chatter of our blithely fearless crowd
awaiting Your pure body pretty much
the way we stand in any fast-food queue,
considering our neighbors' faults, puzzling
at those odd few who seem to shiver some
as they approach Your wound. Holy One allow
that as we near the cup, before the coal
is set upon our trembling tongues, before
we blithely turn and walk again into
our many other failures, allow that we
might glimpse, might apprehend something of the fear
with which we should attend this sacrifice,
for which we shall not ever be found worthy,
for which—I gather—we shall never be prepared.

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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