My Father's Prayers

Monday, January 14, 2013

Every morning my father prayed on his knees
at the side of his marriage bed. He bowed
his head and poured his prayers into two loose fists
over his mouth. We watched in wonder
as the one who could give a whipping
and scald us with his tongue turned
into a penitent child—obedient and
intense, petitioner. We lurked around his doorway
like cowardly debtors observing his
rich rite of passage into the working day
or weekend that worked also, except
for Sunday when he got up, dressed
in his best, put on his hat and went
calling on relatives, our Aunt Tumpy
who had a piano. He could make it
talk, the keys jangling an entrance
to Paradise. Blue fire in his fingers. He threw his head back
and let his hands go with his relaxed, ecstatic body.
And with each sound he threw away or burned
away everything that hurt a man or
brought him to his knees.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013