Mercy in the New World


poems by Elizabeth Oakes


Mercy in the New World is available from your local bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher.

 – Courier-Journal
 – Bowling Green Daily News
 – Sherry Chandler Blog


In this vividly imagined biography of Anne Bradstreet's sister, Elizabeth Oakes creates a sensuous proto-feminist who hears "hymns in the wind snapping the sheets."  In Mercy's new world, "wild things flower first." Rejected by the Puritan community and her own family, Mercy flowers.
— Penelope Scambly Schott
In this collection Elizabeth Oakes invests the New World with a fresh perspective beyond the schoolbook generalities of the Pilgrim fathers, replacing the vague world of our founding myth with a credible portrait of a Puritan wife whose evolving consciousness humanizes the Puritan experience and brings it alive for us.   These deft poems help us re-imagine that world, giving voice to  the struggles and little triumphs of daily life that are not so unlike our own.
— Richard Taylor
In Mercy in the New World, Elizabeth Oakes imagines the life of a woman who perceives a new, unrestrained view of humanity—and of herself and of God. Mercy is a Puritan woman who feels her body shimmer; she is a darkly attired woman who imagines that God caresses her eyelids when she dreams of color. Mercy is a woman I'd sit down to coffee with, someone I'd bake scones for, if only she existed. In imagining the possibilities of this life, Elizabeth Oakes invites us to recognize the intensity, the spaciousness, the mercy in our own.
— Lynn Domina

From the Book —

Our New World

An owl hoots.
Something snarls.
Something further
in the forest sounds
like maniacal laughter.

We bolt the doors,
keep the embers glowing,
do not walk alone,
build our houses close
to each other by law. 

We sleep with guns
hung over the beds. Our
dreams are violent. Many
awaken in the night,
and the neighbors hear
them call. Some wear the
skins of animals now. 

We stuff dry oak leaves
in our shoes for stockings.
The leaves crackle and break.
Eventually they sound 
like something human,
like teeth gnashing.