I have not had quiet prayer today.
When I first came here from Egypt
the clouds would stop right in mid air
when I said early morning verses;
now they wrap the tower in their hair.
I have not had good prayer today.
I have not had good prayer since June.
One morning the sun crossed the room
and hit the ark; the men praying then
shuffled and stamped and rattled the tin
as if no miracle was going on
but I felt God pass through and feed my song.
I have not had a good prayer again, since then.
They do not come here for good prayer.
They come to talk; they come for hours
of business and the steady choir
of the tobacco chewers who inspire
the nameplates and the velvet cover
of the ark, but do not come for ardor.
I do not think I shall again have prayer.
I did not have good prayer today.
The beadle rustled, the sexton swayed
the caboodle of them got up and droned
but I did not hear God, only the men
and their avarice for his name
which is the coin between their palms.
I do not think I shall again hear prayer.
I shall go out again today
to the woods where the rivers play
in rivulets through piles of clay
I shall hear there the bird sing to the sky
or how the twig snap from my sleeve pleased God;
I shall hear there the light fall from the sod.
I do not think I shall again hear anything inside men’s mouths.
And waters roll out of the trees, like a shroud.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.