Two Poems
The Last of the Sin-Eaters 

This is how I fed myself, infidelity 
washed with wine passed across 

a cooling chest, wrath burning each 
crust before it touched my tongue. 

It was always a risk, taking in 
the decades of my father and of 

his, everything they wanted and 
could not touch, every lazy day 

in a village of slumberers. I ate without 
filling the arrogance of my throat. 

I was the only one left—I had no choice 
but to be the best. I was paid 

in bread and wine. It could never 
be enough. And when I close 

my eyes, I'll take them all with me, 
every movement I watched that was 

not mine. I own them all. I have paid 
and been paid and will pay. I am 

pawned, unwanted. Unredeemed. 
I am swallowing my days like water.

Beatitudes and Other Abandoned Prayers 

Lord, take pity on the interior 
of mice, the scent that calls 
the crows to the murder 
on the lawn where the cat 
once lay, unblinking, while 
the grass grew up around it, 
while it waited out its ritual. 

Have mercy on the cobwebs 
behind the cabinet. Bless 
the husks of ruined spiders, 
the unclaimed sacrifice 
of flies bundled in the weave. 
So much is worthy and lies 
beneath us. The blameless 
scuttle beneath our boots, 
shift in the trembling, outwait 
the vacuum and the rag. 
They seek only a respite and 
a hollow. Pity the criminal, 
holed in the corner, building. 

Blessed are the last to die 
for they will be satisfied 
with the final gasps of 
yesterday's incense and 
held-over altar flowers.

Blessed are the liars 
for they bring comfort 
to the fitful hopeless 
in the ever-day of
thin-sheeted hospitals. 

Blessed are the worthless 
for they have patience 
when it comes time 
to cry or throw glasses.

They know alone is better. 
Blessed are the deserters 
for they understand 
the floating and the falling, 
the endless go-letting 
of enviable abandonment. 

Blessed are the sleepwalkers. 
Blessed are the quiet singers. 
Blessed are the cowards. 

When the teacup fails in your hand 
as you are pouring the water, 
hold it close. Listen—in its protest 
is the promise of a new pattern. 
Bless the battle and the service, 
bathe your fingers under the faucet 
if you must. But—I beg you—
listen. Each pore is calling a psalm. 
It passes. Even boiling water 
cools in time. And you are losing 
only skin and a moment of focus. 
By morning, you will have a new 
hand, and in it a new prayer.

RUTH FOLEY lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including AdroitSou’wester, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is the author of the chapbooks Dear Turquoise and Creature Feature, the forthcoming chapbook Sink and Drift, and the full-length collection Dead Man’s Float (forthcoming from ELJ). She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.
The Adirondack Review