Relearning to Pray
Christopher Howell (bio)

We do not turn to prayers, they stalk us,
speechless with longing
so that it is almost a betrayal to speak them?

In the dead hours
when we wake, terrified
of oblivion, its endless black sky
without stars, something
like a twisted metal angel opens its
mute throat
and silence emerges, combing
its invisible hair.

A sign, perhaps,
that surely the ultimate erasure, which we
have earned, is upon us? Was it
supposed to end
like this?
No, we say, clearly it is written, all
things shall end
in a garden of singing light, not this
night after night waking, adrift
like nothing
lost in a white cup.

But at last, out of reason and luck,
one way or another a prayer
finds us
and calls forth its voice.
Be with me, it says. Just that,
the words flying out alone into
an enormous room
made entirely of listening
and the sun rising over the hills.

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