Prayer by Marie Howe
Someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story of my life:
low as a bass drum, beaten over and over:
It’s beginning summer,
and the man I love has forgotten my smell
the cries I made when he touched me, and my laughter
when he picked me up
and carried me, still laughing, and laid me down
among the scattered daffodils on the dining room table.
And Jane is dead,
and I want to go where she went,
where my brother went,
and whoever it is whispered to me
when I was a child in my father’s bed is come back now.
and I can’t stop hearing:
This is the way it is,
the way it always was and will be—
beaten over and over—panicking on street corners,
or crouched in the back of taxicabs,
afraid I’ll cry out in jammed traffic, and no one will know me or
know where to bring me,.
There is, I almost remember,
It runs alongside this one like a brook beside a train.
The sparrows know it; the grass rises with it.
The wind moves through the highest tree branches without
seeming to hurt them.
Who was I when I used to call your name?