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I Mercy

May I have compassion on someone I’d rather do harm to;
oh, Lord, there are so many. May I sow kindness
in my garden, row after row. Let it flourish
like the fanfare of doves in the trees.

II Truth

Something verifiable. And what could be truer,
on this first day of summer, than cut grass,
lawn mower exhaust, glossolalia of birds?
Who can deny the proof of sunlight and rain
becoming lawn, having spring from
seed and dirt? In this bowl of quiet,
peace, like a coverlet, settles our hearts.

III Righteousness

How can I get, not what I want, but what I need?
Up in the tree, a catbird is singing: scraps of robin,
titmouse, blue jay, ending in a kitten’s mewl.
One crow adds its dark punctuation. I want my heart
to open, simple and gold as these Stella d’Oro
lilies. I want my song to be varied as the catbird’s scat.
Yet what is it I need?

IV Peace

It’s how we love. Patient as this one tall oak,
bark a crazed alligator hide. At its base, a gnarl
of knots, knobby fists sunk in earth. At the ocean,
I see the waves advance and retreat, endless
armies of blue desire. The Buddha said peace
is the absence of want, and who am I
to say this is wrong?

Barbara Crooker

Barbara Crooker

Barbara Crooker's work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Christian Century, Christianity & Literature, The Christian Science Monitor, America, and Sojourners, among others. It’s been anthologized in places like The Bedford Introduction to Literature (Bedford/St. Martin’s), Imago Dei: Poems from Christianity and Literature (Abilene Christian University Press), Looking for God in All the Right Places (Loyola Press), and Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season and Spring: A Spiritual Biography of the Season (SkyLights Paths Publishers). She is the author of nine books of poetry; Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press), is the latest.

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