February Prayer

What is this sudden reaching?
In bone-white landscape,
my gloved fingers radiate
a signal pain, crying out in warning,

that even the boughs of the mighty
oaks can crack in the death-chill,
and call down its wild thunder
& cleft the roof, clattering our skulls,

trying to wake us. Precarious
prating about the nothing. Is prayer
a kind of blind reaching—

toward a book on a shelf, an unlit room
where a child is sleeping—
beyond the circumference of self?

Philip Metres

Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (2020), The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (2018), Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015). His work has garnered the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Hunt Prize, the Adrienne Rich Award, three Arab American Book Awards, the Watson Fellowship, the Lyric Poetry Prize, Creative Workforce Fellowship, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

Dawn Prayer
The Trees in My Chest