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New Mercies Unseen, a poem by Matthew Miller

New Mercies Unseen
by Matthew Miller

Sometimes, when harvesting the garden’s cabbage
or kale, you notice a small cottontail cowering, cornered
within the grapevine. Though you have no weapon,
he does not trust your intention,
and burrows out into the thorns.

In a nest beneath blueberry stems, twisted and sparse
like a hollowed out spaghetti squash,
a kitten shivers,
born naked and blind.
You stop the spade well above his head,
slide over to transplant strawberries. It’s mercy he never sees.

There are sometimes, also, when you are sipping
dark coffee at sunrise,
eyeing the quiet rabbit.
He nips grass nestled in the asphalt cracks.
Like a mystic praying alone,
he pulls sweet shoots from this rough road,
ears up and head bowed low.

Bio: Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry—all hoping to create a home. He pretends his classroom at Bethany Christian Schools is a living room, filling it with as many garage-sale chairs as he can afford. He lives beside a dilapidating apple orchard in Goshen, Indiana, and keeps trying to make tree houses for his four boys in the broken branches. He vacillates between wanting to poison and wanting to feed the groundhogs, rabbits and cardinals that try to make their homes in the garden. For now, they’ve all chosen peace.