Issue 10

Three Prayers for the Eastern Shore of Maryland

 · Poetry

I. Prayer of Worship / of the Chickens in the Chicken Houses, of the Chesapeake Bay

Let us love the chicken / as we love all things, / in bits and pieces, submissive / to the process, its aftermath / left to flow haphazard. // Let us bow to hazard— / if haphazard is good enough / for creation, may it be / good enough for us. // Search out things loved / too greatly to hold / a stable shape, wallowing / in gutter and trench. // Let us love in slurry, / collect being in stainless steel trough, / filter it through the wide slats. // Praise be to the language / that makes of chicken and jellyfish / one thing—coward— / that makes spineless: coward; / praise be that soon / we will make the chicken / spineless. // Praise be that one need not ask; / every part is the nugget. // Let us count our love in chickens; / let us count it by the millions / or by metric tons of nitrogen, / by waves of algal bloom—yes, / it sounds pretty. / Therefore, so be it: pretty, / let us hear ourselves say aloud. // Let us love forever the corn fields / and the universal chickens, / and, as we love the others, / let us also love their run-off. // Let our love for the chicken / bloom in bay water / as does the grace of corn / refracted through the chicken soma. //


II. Corporate Prayer / of Cymothoa Exigua

Glory be to the parasite / that crawls in through the gills / and usurps the tongue— / your gills and your tongue, that / already lizard thing. // Glory be to the figure / of speech. // Synecdoche, when I am / taken inside the mouth, / that is, only part of me, but / say you take me inside the mouth / and it’s all— // I say, batter my heart, / and feel God reeling / somewhere behind, inside, / say, vex me Lord, and there, / the tug within, // a hook, a line. Anagogy, / when I am strung from the water / and into the light, glaring / on the gape-mouthed / who hold me, slimy, in their hands, / who lose me, sly me, / from there between their hands. // Glory be to the upper world, / how the firmament mirrors / those depths from which we / are caught and reeled, / how we become a part, / a new thing, / in each home we find / between each set of soft lips. //


III. Prayer of Imprecation / Upon Living on the Eastern Shore in the Age of Waterboarding

Crush us, Lord, for we are / full of bones and venom. // Reveal the unthinkably obvious, / that it is easy to drown / in inches of water, / that we share a coastline with executives of state / and have, therefore, shared stupidity, / no doubt, in the face of thunderheads / that roll across the bay, / which was, obviously, glass, / that we shared for certain the rote / presumption that lightning dances / against the night sky, across the shimmering bay. // Let’s say that we have known and loved / a person drowned, not known them / drowned, not known the water / still beading in bronchioli. // Wreck us, Lord, for we have shared / in the rising of property values / with the coming of the Cheneys and Rumsfields, / that their boots tread upon Mount Misery / and we could swear that dollars sprout. // Smite us, Lord, for our waterproof skin, / for when the drowned reach out to wet our hands, / we stay so very kempt. // Flood us, Lord, for even in our dreams / we die on the bridge, / four-point-three miles cantilevered over the water. //

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