Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy by Anna Weaver

“My cup runneth over.”
~ Psalm 23

Because my mother preferred the King James,
my sister and I learned at bedtime
to lisp like Puritans. We were made-eth
to lie down and led-eth along the rhythm
of her favorite verse—with little idea
what could be comforting about rods
or staffs, no matter who they belonged to.

A child of the flatlands, I had never seen
a valley, and I was more afraid of shadows
than of death. Too young for enemies,
I would imagine a lonely dinner,
prepared by my mother’s shepherd
(who probably floated) for a fearless
and oily haired version of myself.

Yea, though the Lord and his house
were confusing, at least the ending
made good sense because I had a babysitter
named Shirley with a bright laugh
and kind face, who I could join in my mind
with Goodness and Mercy like a trio
of back-up singers—comfort in the dark
behind my nervous solo, something
for which, even today, I could earnestly
and honestly pray.


Raised in Oklahoma, Anna Weaver lives in North Carolina with her two daughters. Her poems have appeared in Connotation Press, One, O-Dark-Thirty, and elsewhere. A self-described open mic tourist, she has performed in 20 states and the District of Columbia.