Monday, May 08, 2006

Kneeling in Prayer

after the Pygmies
of the Iture Forest

I dropped part of my car outside
Enid, Oklahoma, along U.S. 64,
almost two years ago. My mechanic

gives it, maybe, another year.
The rust crunches away at its body,
peeling off strips of paint
before it chews through the frame.
My bank account spits out mud

whenever I lift the handle and try
to fill the sink. The IRS offers
to garnish my wages, adding a sprig
of watercress with each check.
Such gestures won't pay my bills.
If I only knew what to awaken,

I would sing sweetly, like droplets
of rain, offering a song each morning,
afternoon, and evening. My only tree,
a twenty year old cottonwood, whose limbs
shaded my window, and whose seeds
floated past like moths, dirtying

the neighbor's yard, was cut down
last summer when she complained
to the town. Nothing else covers me
but the sky. My landlord releasing
the coolant from the air conditioner
lets its cancer spread to clouds
and gnaw holes over Antarctica.

Maybe I should lie down next to you,
placing my ear over your stomach,
to hear a forest waking in your body.
The hourly bells of academe drifting
over the town call us now into prayer.

This older poem of mine appeared in Red Rock Review 13 (2003): 82. The references to the pygmies come from Denise Carmody"s The Oldest God: Archaic Religion Yesterday & Today, which I read when I was an undergraduate and in one of her classes.