Prayer by Chard deNiord

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Here is one of two poems by Chard deNiord that appears in our Fall 2014 print issue. The entire issue is available in downloadable digital format here.

PRAYER

I pulled weeds on my knees in the garden
and prayed as I pulled, asking for bread,
forgiveness, and deliverance, but nothing
else-no intervention, miracle or sign.
I was floating on the ground with dirt
on my knees and blood on my hands
from pulling thorns. A snake slid by
with a cold clear eye I took as mine to see
myself with so little time. My wife called out
from the porch with nothing on for me
to leave my trowel and join her for lunch
beneath the elm that is so tall it sweeps
the sky with its vernal broom. That is
so ancient, hollow, and large a crowd
of creatures make it their home, including
an owl who sings till dawn about the hole
in the sky that is the sky. I was so hungry then
at noon, for how long had I been in the dark
wet dirt without an answer? What it was
that said, “Listen to the leaves that ruin paradise,”
I’ll never know but did, kneeling down
to feel the tongues of the blessed weeds
against my ear. Standing up to hear the silence
above the traffic of worms and flies.

chard deniordCHARD DENIORD’S poetry collections include Asleep in the Fire, Sharp Golden Thorn, Night Mowing, and The Double Truth, as well as a collaborative project, Speaking in Turn. DeNiord was the founder and director of the Spirit and Letter Workshop with Jacqueline Gens in Patzquaro, Mexico and the founder and director of the New England College MFA Program in Poetry. He currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Providence College. In addition to teaching writing, deNiord has also taught comparative religions and philosophy and holds a Master of Divinity from Yale. As well, deNiord has conducted many interviews with senior American poets. Many of these interviews are collected in the book Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, which also includes essays. To learn more about Chard deNiord please visit: http://charddeniord.com/.