You lie like a comma in the sentence of your bed.
Your legs stack like planks;
each hand steadies the opposite shoulder.
It’s a position you assume when
assailed by dreams or sleepless longing,
or on nights you feel you’re breathing
broken glass. Tonight you buckle into
yourself and mourn two vocabularies,
a moldy discourse you outgrew
and a fluent address you never learned.
The prayers of your childhood
quite frankly suck, you conclude,
rote requests that sugary red punch
and chocolate donuts somehow
strengthen and nourish bodies always
prone to sin, and perfunctory pleas
that no harm or danger might fall over
you, as if you were a gnarled root
obstructing a path. At least you
learned to plunder an ordinary day
for blessings worth acknowledging,
so you release a long breath and start a list:
Lord, I thank you for spring,
for the crisp steady light of May and
the many varieties of lilacs.
Also for my opposable thumbs,
which so often come in handy,
and that really nice port
I had last week at my cousin’s.
Please bless me with a loving heart.
A loving heart? You hadn’t known
you could pronounce such a sentence.
The words jangle in the dark
like a drawer of kitchen knives
rattled by a ghost. Who asks for
such a thing? You do, apparently.
You’re horrified at your
sentimentality, your audacity,
and the fact that you took so long
to realize you’d like to junk
the ire and indignation you’ve
draped for decades across your
shoulders like a vainglorious yoke
you sentenced yourself to carry.
What would grace feel like, finally?
Like the air around a wondrous
sentence spoken into the dark as you
wait for another sentence to follow?
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.