Nov 6, 2012

Poem Addressed to Prayer

Written by Alex Chertok

Read by Mary Biddinger

If I held textbook
posture, knelt bedside, I swore
you’d come to me.

I waited for a kneejerk warmth. I waited
for your knack for hearing silences.

I closed my eyes and clasped my hands,
tried to keep my tourniquet grip
around your glass-cut arm.
I tried to think of saving others.

I pictured what the pitch black
took from me: dim light
scratched around the shut door
by the brush handle of the next room.

When I turned on the flashlight,
my lashes latticed every squinty thing
but you. When wind suddenly
swindled the bush of all its nestlers
near my window, you weren’t
hiding there either.

You’re too hard to find,
so find me. Or
wash over me, or drown me
in your floodlight, syringe me,
chloroform me, do to me what you do

to those brought up right, raised
to know your every part, every night.
They could feel the small radial
tick of your wrist.

That’s the thing: I’ve been grounded
in my one body.
I could never find the eye
in the gnarl of wood, or see
snow putting the oak tree
into slow-nodding dotage.

How, then, can I find you
or the white invisible shirts
that hang from the windows
of lives stuck roadside, waiting
to be not given up on?

Where, if not in the dark?
Were you here all along,
lit and awake? A pebble
patient in the sieve?