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Southern Cultures 11.2 (2005) 83-85



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Praying with George Herbert in Late Winter


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Figure 1
"Outside, light swarms / and particularizes the snow. . . "Photograph courtesy of the Collections of the Library of Congress.
[End Page 83]

1

In fits and starts, Lord,
    our words work
the other side of language
where you lie if you can be said
    to lie. Mercy upon
the priest who calls on you
to nurture and to terrorize
    him, for you oblige.
Mercy upon you, breath's engine
returning what is to what is.
    Outside, light swarms
and particularizes the snow;
tree limbs crack with ice
    and drop. I can say
there is a larger something
inside me. I can say,
    "Gratitude is
a strange country." But what
would I give to live there?

2

    Something breaks in us,
and keeps breaking. Charity,
    be severe with me.
Mercy, lay on your hands.
    White robes on
the cypress tree. Sparrows
    clot the fence posts;
they hop once and weave [End Page 84]
    through the bleached air.
Lord, I drift on the words
    I speak to you—
the words take on
    and utter me. In what
language are you not
    what we say you are?
Surprise me, Lord, as a seed
    surprises itself . . .

3

    Today the sun has the inward look
of the eye of the Christ child.
    Grace falls at odd angles from heaven
    to earth: my sins are bright sparks
in the dark of blamelessness . . .
    Yes. From my window I watch a boy step
    backwards down the snow-covered road,
studying his sudden boot tracks.
    The wedding of his look and the world!
    And for a moment, Lord, I think
I understand about you and silence . . .
    But what a racket I make in telling you.
Tom Andrews was a native of West Virginia and winner of both the National Poetry Series and the Iowa Poetry Prize. His untimely death in 2001 cut short a career marked by early achievement and remarkable innovation. Random Symmetries, his collected works, was published by Oberlin College Press in 2002.

Endnote

1. "Praying with George Herbert in Late Winter" appeared in Random Symmetries: The Collected Poems of Tom Andrews and is reprinted with the permission of Oberlin College Press.



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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 83-85
Launched on MUSE
2005-06-01
Open Access
No
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