Saturday, February 25, 2012


photo: john brzezinski

Prayers of Old Men
by Ralph Murre

I’ll bet you think the old men
are praying to be young men
with young lovers, but
they kneel now beside your bed
and pray for the things young men
haven’t heard of yet –
the high plateaus of you
and the rivers rushing
to the deep sea of you.
Old men pray for height and depth
and the quivering leaf of your ear
touched by a tongue,
for that quiet cove of you
where they may lie sheltered
for one more evening.
They pray for the light
of sunrise in your eyes
and they pray to believe
in whoever they pray to,
for they want to believe in everything,
because believing in nothing didn’t work.
And they pray for the touch of you on me.
They’re all praying for you and for me,
the high ground of you towering
above me, and the river,
they’re praying now for the river of you,
and they’re praying for me
to go adrift in the river
. . .to the sea of you,
. . .to the sea of you,
praying I’ll be lost at sea in you
and they’re secretly praying
that this storm will drown me
in the depths of you,
because they are old men
and they know I am a sailor,
and they know that drowning
is the only way for sailors
to get home.

~ first published in Iconoclast