At the Mercy Seat

At the Mercy Seat, by Susan McCaslin

At the Mercy Seat

by Susan McCaslin


  • Spring 2003
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-003-3 (1-55380-003-6)
  • 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 108 pages
  • Poetry, Spirituality

At the Mercy Seat explores the relentlessness of mercy as it permeates the natural world and also our relationships, openning them to mystery. Whether the poems reclaim biblical stories or the voices of McCaslin’s poetic progenitors, they are compelling and finely nuanced events leading to a contemplative being-in-the-world, in which spirit and matter, the sacred and profane, the delicate and the disturbing develop as a unified field.

This is a book about thresholds: the meeting places of silence and language, suburbia and coastal wilderness, the seemingly disparate worlds of parent and child, husband and wife. The poems remind the reader that magical transformations can occur at places both “here” and “there,” that we are all to some extent “threshold dwellers,” that divine mercy still breaks into the middle of our most ordinary lives — with a sudden rupturing of the fabric, the “jagged edge of raw blue silk torn from its skein.”

At the Mercy Seat offers a message we need listen for: ‘Live like a field lily,’ McCaslin urges, ‘springing back.'”
— Kate Braid

“What quiet is in these poems, and in the quiet, what thinking appears. In the ruminative quiet, ‘the face of your birth rises from your head’; in the lit quiet, Blake is speaking. Who would not want to wait for a time in this place of delighted interiority Susan McCaslin has created?”
— Tim Lilburn