A PLACE TO PRAY
She would pull us down to our knees
on sundowns like this when dusk
was most gentle, tides ebbed quietly
like a murmured prayer: Oración!
Pray, little ones, He will keep us safe.
Pray that in the dark, we find our way.
Pray that the night will be our blanket.Pray that the dawn brings back our sun.
Was it the distinct tremolo on her voice
that makes these echoes of an evening
orison cut through this familiar silence
that has survived brief lives and years?
Running back to evacuation shelters
in caverns carved through mountains
to hide us from our slit-eyed marauders,
we scurried with gleaned root crop dug
from scorched soil left ashen in bombed
out farms, but sunsets were her signal
moments when she would stop us dead
from our absconding: Vamos a rezar!
Let us pray! Pray that we get there,
With all our hands, fingers, and feet.
Pray that in the dark we find our way,
Pray that sunrise will be there. Pray!
Sudden rain on foggy evenings like this,
the power out, brings back the shadows
of that past world. In the dark, I pray
she blesses me with a touch on my back
and whisper that she, too, is still lifting
her voice to whom it may still concern,
we get to eat the root crop in our bags,
and children in the desert find theirs.
The war years are gone, but fearsome
havoc promises to catch up with us yet:
I pray the bright clearing in the woods
where a tree has fallen is a place to pray.
---Albert B. Casuga