POETRY: A Recuperation Of Sin by Scott Cairns

A Recuperation Of Sin by Scott Cairns

I suppose we might do away with words like sin.
They are at least archaic, not to mention rude,
and late generations have been pretty well-schooled

against the presumption of holding anything
to be absolutely so, universally
applicable, especially anything like

sin which is, to put it more neatly, unpleasant,
not the sort of thing one brings up. Besides, so much
of what ignorance may have once attributed

to sin has been more justly shown to be the end
result of bad information, genetic flaw,
or, most often, an honest misunderstanding.

And I suppose sin’s old usefulness may have paled
somewhat through many centuries of overuse
by corrupt clergy pointing fingers, by faithless

men and women who have longed more than anything
for a more rigid tyranny over their wives
and husbands, over their somnambulant children.

In fact, we could probably forget the idea
of sin altogether if it were not for those
periodic eruptions one is quite likely

to picture in the papers, or on the TV—
troubling episodes in which, inexplicably,
some giddy power rises up to occasion

once more the spectacle of the innocent’s blood.

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