Elizabeth Oakes
Mercy in the New World
Sample Poems


How God Comes to Me

God flowed into me today,
not like sun or rain or anything
you or I could see, but as touch,
as, perhaps, the cat's fur when
lightning is about to strike.

It can happen only when I am alone.
God, they tell me, does not come
to women (only that once), and
we must catch reflected light
from father, husband, brother,
even son. But I say this - the world

closes like the eye of the lizard
that suns on my step when they
are near, and something in me darts
like a thing scared in the woods.


My Muse

I would like to live
without this need
for pen and paper,

without the ink
stained hands that
give away when I

have not been sewing
or cooking. My sister
writes, yet she attends
to her duties, raises her
children. I don't believe

her muse calls her
at inconvenient times.
She rises and sleeps
and sleeps and rises
and her world goes
round in a perfect
circle. It seems that

mine is jagged, and
when I should be doing
this, I am doing that,

and rhyme gets in my
way, like this skirt that
catches in the thorns.


Philip and I Listen to the Wind

The wind like my heart,
Philip's sigh like the sound
the billows make
when we fan the fire.