Scott Cairns, professor of English and Director of Creativity Writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the author of six collections of poetry, the memoir Short Trip to the Edge, the non-fiction work The End of Suffering, and numerous articles, essays and even a libretto for an oratorio. I had the distinct pleasure of taking a two-day poetry seminar with 11 others led by Cairns at Laity Lodge in Texas, and it was a marvelous experience, sitting in the sun and wind of late September and talking and reading poetry.
This poem is from Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected.
Having Descended to the Heart
Once you have grown used to the incessant
prayer the pulse insists upon, and once
that throbbing din grows less diverting
if undiminished, you’ll surely want
to looka round – which is when you’ll likely
apprehend that you can’t see a thing.
Terror sometimes suports an up side, this time
serves as tender, hauling you to port.
What’s most apparent in the dark is how
the heart’s embrace, if manifestly
intermittent, is really quite
reliable, and very nearly bides
as if another sought to join you there.
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