Prayer By Jorie Graham

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl   
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the   
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
                                                                      infolding,
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a   
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by   
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the   
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where   
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into   
itself (it has those layers), a real current though mostly   
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                                    motion that forces change—
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets   
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,   
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something   
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through   
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is   
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen   
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only   
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.   
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.   
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.

NOTES: PRAYER (“minnows”) was written as a turn-of-the-millennium poem for the New York Times Op-Ed page, and was originally dated 12.31.00

Jorie Graham, “Prayer” from Never. Copyright © 2002 by Jorie Graham. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Never (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2002)

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