Meditation on a Theme


Constance Merritt’s brilliantly crafted villanelle has great resonance at this moment we are living in. It invites reflection that will empower us for the work of resistance and renewal. Her poem teaches us that we must create a world of neighbors while others seek to draw heavy lines of division. We are very honored to feature her poem for National Poetry Month. —Rev. Cedric A. Harmon

Meditation on a Theme Suggested by Dr. Trellou Joseph Pond

By Constance Merritt

Constance Merritt

Constance Merritt


How would it feel to really love your neighbor,

your neighbor who worships a stranger god?

What if your god allowed that man to prosper—


no plagues, no holy wars, no sanctioned slaughter

of first born sons? Could such a god be God?

How would it feel to really love your neighbor?


Will the salt of holiness have lost its savor

when no longer underwritten by the blood

of lambs, infidels, martyrs? If we prosper,


if we be long upon this earth brother

to brother, is God then obsolete? Or would

God dwell among us—familiar, stranger: neighbor?


Between our fallings-short and strivings-for

yawned an abyss so fell we needed God,

a cobbled ladder in order to cohere, let alone to prosper.


But if they were always us the terrible strangers—

attending angels, wrathful, jealous gods?

How would it feel to really love your neighbor?

To love your self? To reverence life? To prosper?


Constance Merritt is a poet, reader, art maker, music lover, social justicer, inveterate learner, job seeker, and freckle face. Her fourth collection of poems, Blind Girl Grunt: The Selected Blues Lyrics and Other Poems, was published this year and is available at Amazon and from the publisher Headmistress Press. You can follow her on Twitter @merittherose.


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