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“This is a brief meditation on the way we believe we have escaped our negative acts, until later, when we realize much of our life has been a kind of penance for those acts. Science believes it has the answers to such personal mysteries, but I wonder." 

—Fanny Howe

Now I Get It

Fanny Howe, 1940

Remember judge and you shall
Be judged
For laughing in school, for being
Stupid and always wrong.
Penance like the scent of the sheep
Is slow O’ weary, its coat
A kind of fluff that goes up
In filament theory.
Your own life ahead follows you
Like a scientist posing as a shepherd.

Copyright @ 2014 by Fanny Howe. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Fanny Howe. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2014.

Fanny Howe

Fanny Howe

The author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, Fanny Howe received the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her collection Selected Poems.

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In my sleep Mohammed spoke
and I woke up
struggling with equipment
a helpless elder with fingers too weak
to bend the bits around the neck.

The Prophet expressed his relief
that his words
were of no interest
to postmodern theorists.
He was (he said) just another

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