Out of exceeding gloom and out of God,
I break a prayer from a growl and sing
a hymn more ordinary than tap water.
I pray that I might be more than my skin,
this dance of atoms, this ritual of ash,
this tribe of twilight and rattled angels,
this pattern of epiphanies rejected.
I know all prayer is merely the patter
of little feet coming down the stairwell
in a daydream of a future household.
Paradise I make a book of laughter
and forgetting; in the threnody spun
from streetlight cascading through sheets of rain
in the parking lot after a movie,
I make a gospel called marriage. Coast there
with me, wife. I pray for the only grace
every soul is blessed with: stupidity.
Let me be stupid enough to love more,
to want less, to desire only what moths
insane for light desire in their beating
against the screen door on August midnights.
I make a ceremony of small hopes
and venerate them like scratch-off tickets.
I confess I carved a psalm into
the stump of an oak tree. Sometimes, I drink
milk straight from the carton and I seldom
thank you for doing the laundry. My choir
is the sigh of the shovel into dirt
I once heard in my grandfather’s garden,
his blood of Christ a can of Ballantine’s beer.
Holiness turns a curse to canticle
and returns the bleat to the slaughtered lamb.
Without you, my wife, without God, sweet Jesus,
I’d be tracing my muscles in the dark,
spinning on a treadmill in the basement,
instead of letting the lark in my gut
warble a nest of cracked hallelujahs.
I’m a host of bright wings and brokenness,
praising the body that betrays me now
and at the hour of forever I do.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.