Praying on Gravel

J.S. Absher


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Not yet March, already weeds

bring me to my knees

with trowel and bare fingers.

Under the loblolly

the hellebore are in bloom,

a periwinkle or two. The weeds

are in the white gravel

of the walk. My son has written—

another unexpected death.

On all fours I work down the path,

uprooting weeds, smoothing

gravel. I’ll write my son

a letter back—it’s how we talk

best, considered word for

considered word.

Perhaps I will thank

the weeds for bringing me down

where I’ve the time to seek

wisdom in the river gravel.

What words are good enough? My son

thought of the Vulgate’s non

timebo malum, I will fear no evil.

I do not fear the weeds.

But I fear this prayer a little.