By Scott Cairns b. 1954 Scott Cairns
He did not fall then, blind upon a road,   
nor did his lifelong palsy disappear.   
He heard no voice, save the familiar,

ceaseless, self-interrogation
of the sore perplexed. The kettle steamed   
and whistled. A heavy truck downshifted

near the square. He heard a child calling,   
and heard a mourning dove intone its one   
dull call. For all of that, his wits remained

quite dim. He breathed and spoke the words he read.   
If what had been long dead then came alive,   
that resurrection was by all appearances

metaphorical. The miracle arrived
without display. He held a book, and as he read   
he found the very thing he’d sought. Just that.

A life with little hurt but one, the lucky gift   
of a raveled book, a kettle slow to heat,   
and time enough therefore to lift the book

and find in one slight passage the very wish   
he dared not ask aloud, until, that is,   
he spoke the words he read.

Scott Cairns, “Recitation” from Philokalia: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Scott Cairns. Reprinted with the permission of Zoo Press.

Source: Philokalia: New and Selected Poems (Zoo Press, 2002)

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Poet Scott Cairns b. 1954

Subjects Reading & Books, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Scott  Cairns


Scott Cairns was born in Tacoma, Washington. He earned a BA from Western Washington University, an MA from Hollins College, an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD from the University of Utah.
Cairns is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Theology of Doubt (1985), The Translation of Babel (1990), Philokalia (2002), Idiot Psalms (2014), and Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems (2015). His writing has . . .

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SUBJECT Reading & Books, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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