Do not punish my enemies.
I call them Not-my-Enemies.
Do not model violence to them.
Instead, refashion their hearts.
Extend their vision to comprehend
that I as enemy have vanished.
Guide their steps in paths that pass me closer.
Guide my walking in ways that match their own.
Smash only the shackles of stubbornness.
Spring the clamps that close the words of meeting in their mouths.
Unfold their minds to scenes of the trampling of chaff by families of feet.
Let them recall that leaves extend a table;
that more than one can make a soup:
the lentil guest
the leek provider
contributors of greens.
Let steam from pots of stew
too many for any one woman's household
waft invitation to their senses
so that before the red sun sets
their tongues may taste translucent drink
from neighbor's vines
while arms enwind each other's child
and dishes are washed together.
Helen Jean Novy, H.M., was a teacher of English and theology at Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio when this poem appeared.