for Clare

In your life you will bruise your heel.
You will be walking some day and step
down hard on a sharp rock.

Whether you cry or curse or just feel
pain shiver up your leg, you will take
your next step with more care.

You waited a long time to be born.
We waited with you, waited for you in this world of rocks.
Once I believed I was saved, beyond
the trouble my family, my friends
and my own stupid choice

brought me. But saved by whom or for what
I don’t know. Simple faith was enough.
If you can, please, believe.

It will not make the rocks any less
hard. It is not like ice which fills cracks
and shatters rocks into dust.

But it makes you feel a tenderness,
like blood cushioning the hurt, a bruise.
It shows us where the pain is.

A Message from the Editors

Receive ten print and digital issues, plus gain unlimited access to The New Criterion archive.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 3, on page 44
Copyright © 2022 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/1987/11/if-you-can