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Psalm

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For you are like their parent
                                       who is never pleased
                  and they are like your parent
                                                            who cannot stay angry

For you are like a child

For age after age
                                       they conceive you
                  and despite the pain of birth
                                                            they bring you forth

For they call you perfect   
                                       though your hands are missing
                  and though your heart does not beat
                                                            they give you a name

For they remember you

For they hold you blameless
                                       in their sorrow
                  though they were surely happiest
                                                            before you arrived

For your identical twin
                                       they name Silence
                  and when they feed Silence
                                                            he grows

For they love Silence
                                       as they would have loved you
                  even more perhaps
                                                            as old age comes
and they forget
                                       the sound of your cry
                  and where the exact spot was
                                                            they spread your ashes

and how those ashes
                                       tasted
                  when the wind blew them
                                                            into their mouths

Father in their dreams
                                       they worry still
                  perhaps it is you
                                                            who lives among them

and not Silence
                                       after all   
                  mistakes happen
                                                            after all

how would anyone know

and the midwives
                                       forgive them
                  forgive them
                                                            were only human

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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Psalm

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  • Poet, editor and teacher Philip Memmer is the author of four books of poems: The Storehouses of the Snow: Psalms, Parables and Dreams (2012); Lucifer: A Hagiography (2009), which was awarded the 2008 Idaho Prize for Poetry from Lost Horse Press; Threat of Pleasure (2008), winner of the Adirondack Literary Award for Poetry; and Sweetheart, Baby, Darling (2004).
  
    Memmer’s work is centered in an agnostic search for meaning, and his questions return both thematically and formally to the discarded Biblical stories of his youth. In Lucifer, Memmer re-imagines the age-old character as God’s first son, whose rebellion against his Father is an act of self-making, not war-making: confronted with the reality of death in God’s new creation, Lucifer leaves Paradise as an act of solidarity and defiance—a decision he wrestles with throughout the collection. In The Storehouses of the Snow, Memmer writes psalms to a god that is “always...

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