Articles/Essays – Volume 54, No. 1

Praying on Gravel

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.

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