Mothers, Have Mercy On Us All

Is there a quota for mercy?

Do they give it to the younger angels,

take their hands on clear mornings,

and steer them to the edges of clouds

where they can peer over the banks

into the depths of blue beneath.

All our little prayers bubbling up

to be popped by small celestial palms

crumb dusted from the mercy

their mothers have parcelled out

so they can toss it to the mortals below.

And do some of us know the places

to stand on those clear mornings

where the young ones chatter

and rustle their down like tissue.

Which ones crumble mercy to dust

so it falls evenly and ripples far,

the others who wodge their palms

into pebbles that punch through

but settle far too soon.

Who’s voice calls them home.


Mary Mother of God have mercy, mercy on us all

Vertigo & Ghosts by Fiona Benson


  1. I love where your last line has taken you, Carol, and the image of younger angels peering over clouds waiting for prayers, rustling their down like tissue. I hope they catch mine soon.

  2. It would be nice to know where to stand. Wonderful poem. For some reason, the old movie, “The Trouble with Angels” comes to mind.

  3. Angels are prevalent out here on the trail tonight. I enjoyed the twist you put on things, fun mixing with drama.

  4. Love the image of angels peering over, down on us….waiting for the prayers. The image of the prayers, popping like bubbles….an amazing image to think about.
    Well done!

  5. Who indeed calls them home and washes their wodged hands? Nice to know they’re there, as our prayers bubble upward !

  6. There are so many facets to this poem. I read it four times and each time got a different interpretation. The most striking was the first line-the question now evokes many memories for me. I love the visual of little angels peering over the banks of clouds. I love it.

  7. Such an interesting image and I liked the way you carried it through for the entire poem. I was taken to the pond to feed ducks and took my own children to ponds and parks to feed the birds so its an association woven into the fabric of motherhood for me and many others, I’m sure. For me this kind of image lies at the heart of good poetry because it invokes profound associations that deepen the readers’ attention and underscore the point the poet wants to make.

    I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s “The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”

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