Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night
by Stuart Kestenbaum from Prayers & Run-on Sentences
When I wake I am still carrying the night with me,
the trembling wind we are awash in, and the wind
outside howls or does what the wind does, which is
not howl but knit trees and leaves together with clouds
and lash the sun together with the moon. I am only
imagining this because I haven’t studied my science today
and so can’t tell the truth of things, I can only tell
what I am making up at this moment when the darkness
departs like a wave receding, and the sea is absorbed
in the dense sand, which lightens as the water travels away,
the same way I lay awake in my bed last night, fear
washing over me and seeping into the mattress,
my vessel, my washed-up raft.
Since first posting this poem a bright moment occurred:
Stuart Kestenbaum’s new book Only Now had a poem Prayer for Joy, appear on American Life in Poetry, and therefore also on the Poetry Foundation — Also, find the poem Prayer for the Dead, that appeared in 2007 from Prayers & Run-on Sentences
Thanks to Ted Kooser
This morning’s favorite poem from Prayers & Run-on Sentences, (published in 2007 by Deerbrook Editions, with a number of poems read on The Writer’s Almanac, and is still popular) struck me for the sense of angst but more a reminder of a humanity-even condition faced over space and time, day, night, morning, how one sense of these is flipped over across the globe, this morning is that evening when prayers are not made for an answer but for the connection we cannot find in our fear, in our solitude and longing, to not have missed or be blotted out, to continue in the great moment.
The hopeful have it, not to be compared or limited, marginalized but joined in some silent underground that reasons away violence as a way out when truth and compassion succeed, which means us folk have chosen a spirit of light, forgiveness . . . right you say, like in your dreams, you say, if ever a dream would remove the barrier from your eye, your heart, that man might undo the violence, tooth for tooth, you say, it’s just the way it is, my friend.
On 9/11, one mad said, “How inhuman,” and his friend said, “all too human my friend, all too human.”