PRAYER OF BREATH
O Lord! I sick and languid ask of Thee:
Let breath, that snorts and steams upon my face
Like rugged unending machinery
Not cease, but always, in its place,
Inwardly be drawn as needed; then,
Moist and warm be breathed back out again.
O Lord! They lie two heroes, still, but blessed,
Wild brown curls tangled round their heads,
But, oh! Sweet Lord! Not still in heaving breasts,
That measured, rise and fall upon their beds.
More common a request, if one could name,
I could not; though I ask it all the same.
Their bodies in repose are mere pretext;
Sleeping they make challenge toward the day
They have ended and crouch tautly toward the next.
From all they met they gleaned all that they may
And conquered some new step or some new task.
"What will morrow bring?" their bodies ask.
By day, they are an arrow shooting fast
From bow. The eye is blinded from the sight
As rising they arc through the sun and past,
And naught in such a glittering path but light
Though heavenwards you try to trace the shot
Where it travels, you ask, but may know not.
By night, when day is done, and quilts tucked in
And crooked pout lies soft on puckered lips,
One finger bent and crossed under the chin
And one fist clenched and firm upon the hips,
What remains of that heroic motion
But breath and sound and all a man's devotion.
O Lord! In gloaming dark I hover weakly,
Sick I cannot rid myself of mass
And melt into their tender forms completely
As if I made of light and they of glass.
O Lord! What I ask of Thee's not bold,
That I may yet live as they grow old.
© Copyright 1996, Yehuda Berlinger