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This poem is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

Two Poems Jeffrey Wainwright


Sunday Afternoon

Will Heath, never good on his feet,
turned the corner from Chapel
one smokeless Sunday afternoon,
tippling a little, unjustly, as though
his Sabbath boots were welted with the week-day clay,
and, though always slower still of speech,
often malapropic, was eager with words for me.

He smiled and put forth both his hands.
'Look thee,' he said, and on one palm he held
a box of fire-brick and within it a nest of flame,
and in the other hand a jug, of cornflower earthenware,
filled with water to the brim.
'What hast thou got there?' I asked him.

'Look, this is the fire,' he said, 'that can burn Paradise
and this the water to douse the flames of Hell.
Then all on us will love the Lord
not for our reward, and not for fear on Him,
...


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