In Place Of A Curse


John Ciardi

At the next vacancy for God, if I am elected,

I shall forgive last the delicately wounded

who, having been slugged no harder than anyone else,

never got up again, neither to fight back,

nor to finger their jaws in painful admiration.

They who are wholly broken, and they in whom

mercy is understanding, I shall embrace at once

and lead to pillows in heaven. But they who are

the meek by trade, baiting the best of their betters

with the extortions of a mock-helplessness

I shall take last to love, and never wholly.

Let them all into Heaven—I abolish Hell—

but let it be read over them as they enter:

"Beware the calculations of the meek, who gambled nothing,

gave nothing, and could never receive enough."


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