Monday, November 21, 2016

Prayer of Prayers

Prayer of Prayers

for the Water Protectors at Standing Rock

The leaves hang on
into mid-November
oak, alder, locust –
each one a prayer flag
singing aloud –
scarlet, cinnamon, yellow
rippling with
wind’s rough caress. 
Every acorn,
every hickory nut,
a tobacco tie
hung in the trees;
they call out to us
come harvest your prayers.

Soon a blanket of prayers
will cover the earth
and the trees will stand
like prayer poles
dressed in feathers—
gifts from bluejay,
eagle, hummingbird,
The planet prays for us,
for itself;
the planet sings
for November’s endurance,
weaves a nest
for our future
to curl up inside
and learn winter’s
Kevlar-wrapped stories.
This planet is a prayer.
Each icy night
under floodlights
and spy drones
she offers up moon
and stars, a holiness of cold.

You think prayer
cannot change this war?
Then redefine prayer:
it is clothing frozen
to the bodies of warriors
who do not carry
any other weapon
against water canons;
it is eyes swollen shut
with teargas, a relative
holding a bottle of saline solution;
it is the ferocious flower
left behind by a rubber bullet
blossoming on the face
of a woman who is, in the end,
made wholly of prayer,
her spirit an impenetrable vessel
carrying prayer out to the edges
of camp where armed officers
try to hold prayer at bay,
as if prayer were a rabid bear
or a pack of wolves
that must be isolated,
beaten, eradicated
because prayer is contagious
prayer is that dangerous
prayer rages like a bonfire
no fire hose can quench.

The leaves hang on
into mid-November
oak, alder, locust –
each one a prayer flag
howling hoarse –
scarlet, cinnamon, yellow
snapping under
wind’s cracked hands. 
Every acorn,
every hickory nut,
a tobacco tie
swaying in the trees;
they cry out to us
come harvest your prayers
come pound them into meal
come mix them with river water
come cook them on this blazing rock:

oh people, come feast
on this prayer so righteous
it burns your tongues,
wash it down
with a sip from the river
whose songs will always call you

Deborah Miranda
House Mountain, Virginia

November 21, 2016

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