My favorite children’s bedtime prayer
is the one that goes:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
The bed be blest that I lie upon,
Four angels to my bed,
Four angels around my head,
One to watch and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.
This is such a vast improvement
over the more popular,
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
The difference is that
in one, you get to go
to bed with four men.
But in both, the child is afraid
he will die in the middle
of the night in his sleep.
(Why? What’s going on in these homes?
Where’s Child Protective Services when they’re needed?)
Later, the child will grow up
and realize the lie hidden
in those prefabricated prayers.
That is what most people want:
to die in your sleep,
to die in your own bed.
From Gutted (Manic D Press, 2006) by Justin Chin. Copyright © 2006 by Justin Chin. Used with the permission of the publisher.