The windshield’s dirty, the squirter stuff’s all gone, so
we drive on together into a sun-gray pane of grime
and dust. My son
puts the passenger seat back as far as it will go, closes
his eyes. I crack my window open for a bit
of fresher air. It’s so
incredibly fresh out there.
in ditches. Black mirrors with our passing
reflected in them, I suppose, but I’d
have to pull over and kneel down at the side
of the road to know.
The day ahead—
for this, the radio
doesn’t need to be played.
The house we used to live in
in a snapshot, in which
it yellows in another family’s scrapbook.
And a man on a bicycle
rides beside us
for a long time, very swiftly, until finally
he can’t keep up—
but before he slips
behind us, he salutes us
with his left hand—
that every single second—
that every prisoner on death row—
that every name on every tombstone—
that everywhere we go—
that every day, like this one, will
be like every other, having never been, never
thank you. And, oh—
I almost forgot to say it: amen.
Copyright © 2020 by Laura Kasischke. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This prayer of thanksgiving was inspired by exactly the things I put in the poem: the ordinary drive with my son beside me in the passenger seat; the man who rode his bike beside us and saluted us; the weather and the sense of stability and gratitude for stability I had at that moment; the sense that things were going to last and be preserved, if only in memories and snapshots, glimpses of recognition passed between strangers, or between human beings and what felt, at that moment to me, like a benevolent creator who deserved some acknowledgment, even if we are really, all of us, on death row, even if the immortality I felt I got a glimpse of might have been the kind of immortality one achieves having had her name chiseled onto a tombstone. But, I had a lovely glimpse of eternity there, for a minute.”
Laura Kasischke was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1987.
In 1991, she published her first collection of poetry, Wild Brides (New York University Press). She is also the author of Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award; The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Space, In Chains (Copper Canyon Press, 2011); Lillies Without (Copper Canyon Press, 2007); Gardening in the Dark (Ausable Press, 2004); Dance and Disappear (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); What It Wasn't (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002); Fire and Flower (Alice James Books, 1998); and Housekeeping In A Dream (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995).
She is the author of the short story collection If A Stranger Approaches You (Sarabande Books, 2013). She has also published ten novels, of which three have been made into feature films.
She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several Pushcart Prizes and numerous poetry awards. She teaches at the University of Michigan, and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.
Date Published: 2020-05-15
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/prayer-14