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Elizabeth BurnsJune 18, 2001

For I will consider my daughter Cecilia.
For she is a servant of a god of which we know nothing.
For at first stirring of the sun through the only shades unbroken in her room
    she will begin her day in her way.
For this is done by wreathing her body beneath the pillows, quilts and blankets
    she has thrown onto the floor.
For she then leaps to a plastic duck head which will pacify her chewing
    and which is the blessing of her god upon her prayer.
For having done duty and received blessing she begins to consider herself.
For first she considers her toes and removes her socks and begins
    to rub her feet against the wall.
For secondly she removes the cotton pajamas and finds a scab at which
    to pick until blood is drawn and then it bores her.
For thirdly she hurls her back against the rocking chair until it chips
    the wall and then breaks the window.
For fourthly the glass shatters but does not frighten her.
For fifthly she is thirsty and knows to turn the faucets on but not off.
For sixthly she will look for food and remove all blueberries from the container and squish
    them between her soft fingers and then remove the pulp with her teeth.
For perhaps she has considered God but she has not and will not ever consider her family
    or her neighbors.
For she is considered of the Lord’s poor, and so indeed called by the social workers and
    politicians and educators of this country because she is handicapped.
For she is docile and can learn certain things like toileting and holding a pencil.
For she is hated by the crude and ignorant.
For the former are hard against their own infirmities.
For the latter do not recognize the forms of the spirit.
For by stroking and kissing her nose I have found out electricity.
For on good days I perceive God’s light about her and on bad days I beg for God’s
    understanding.

 

The editors of America are pleased to present the winner of
the 2001 Foley Poetry Award, given in honor of William T. Foley, M.D.

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