How to Pray
“…what else should I have done?”
I’ll tell you what prayer is —
I have heard it in the back of a man’s throat during his father’s eulogy
I have seen it in the smiling eyes of a bride at the first dance
I have felt its weight in the warm head of an infant laid against my chest
this infant, I mean —
the one who has flung herself from the comfort of the womb
the one who is trembling and squirming in my arms
who is watching her mother’s mouth as it croons
who is giggling as I play with her feet
Now she burbles into my shirt and squeals
Now she flails her limbs and struggles to be let down
She doesn’t know how to take from the world
what she needs; she does know how to dream,
how to follow a dream into the world, how to dance
and sing, how to share beauty she already knows,
which is what I have been studying all my life
Tell me, which are the holy words,
the sacred steps she ought learn?
A hymn can’t be written before it is heard.
Tell me, what song did they teach you
that made you forget how to pray?