Miserere – a poem by Kate Garrett


“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”

Psalm 51:5-6, King James Version

They say things like ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’, but by the time I came here the love of their God had long left me cold. It’s not for lack of trying that I couldn’t rebuild the fire. Whenever a spark shows its flickering face, I throw my soul as paraffin and paper to these small bursts of flame. I want Christ’s love and want to give him mine. I know my heart; I never doubted he could see inside it. But the others brought their bottled water beliefs, pulled me into airless rooms pumped full of their interpretations, smothered every chance at my salvation – they tore grace from my fingers, left swollen twisted knuckles where I tried to keep my grip from slipping.

Now I turn to my friend who brews tea from flowers. I play my guitar in her kitchen. She listens; she says the tuning suits the music the storm makes. Conversation leads to the past, the last century, turns to tales of family and doubts. Pieces of my faith have slipped out into her palm, she looks at them, says God is something we are and live within, then tilts her chin to the window as if the rain has started singing a new hymn. Wait a minute, she grabs her cards and shuffles – draws one and another and another, shows me cups, a hermit, a hanged man, a priest. More cups. She tells me, go back to church. And I know her ways are not for me, but I’m safe here.


Kate Garrett is a writer, witch, mama, and drummer who sometimes haunts 450 year old houses (as a heritage volunteer). Her next book, A View from the Phantasmagoria, is due out in October 2020 from Rhythm & Bones Press. She lives halfway up a hillside in Sheffield, England. www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

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