Learning of Grace


When I was twelve and very sick
my father sat by my hospital bed
and hand-fed me a treat from home,
but instead of being grateful
I complained he smelled of cigarettes
and uttered not a word of thanks.
He washed his hands with lemon juice
and fed me more.

On that day I learned of grace,
a lesson no sermon
could teach half as well,
for I did not deserve his kindness
and was never so gracious
toward a child of my own.

February 4, 2023

This is one of several poems I’ve been working on this week. I think it’s done, but I made substantial changes to the poem just two days before posting it here. I tend to fall in love with a new poem, and that can cause problems. I often think a poem is finished, only to spot some obvious problem and then beat myself up for not seeing it sooner. I once heard Donald Hall say that he puts new poems away in his sock drawer for two or three weeks before reviewing them again and only then – maybe – does he consider a poem to be finished. That’s a good idea . . . let your poems mellow for a few weeks before sharing them with the world . . . something I didn’t do here, although I still like the poem.

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved