Graduation season: Mercy


Driving to the mountains my daughter loves

Like her father,

I listen to podcasts while dairy cows

Whose udders know no sabbath

Range, not free, really, over grass so green,

it gives the lie to what we call Ordinary Days.

An Old Testament scholar with a wide-open Nebraska voice

Says that “mercy” in Hebrew

Has the same letters as “womb,”

But with different vowel points.

It implies care like the care of a mother for an unborn child.

I once named a woman Mercy.

Not my daughter, but a character in a book,

Rushed, because I was pregnant again,

Rushed, to get the merciless chattel slavery world out of my mind

To make room for the baby in my body.

What does it mean?

My husband asks this in his sermons, and

I get distracted, remembering him studying before dawn for seminary,

A man in his 50s answering a

Long, insistent call.

A voice from the laptop sang Hebrew letters

to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the smell of coffee steeping.

These were God’s chosen people,

he’d ask in exasperation,

So why would he give them vowel points?

My body and mind have been planted and plowed.

Lord have mercy, look what has grown!

And even though I’ve let so much topsoil blow away,

Wanting to produce more and more and more,

Still, mercy comes fresh in the morning.

When I get home

I think I’ll write another book.



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