Collaboration #15 Guillermo Delgado’s image, Anita Skeen responded

Guillermo Delgado's Untitled #15, 2009, mixed media on wc paper, 12'' x 9"

Guillermo Delgado’s Untitled #15, 2009, mixed media on wc paper, 12” x 9″

Learning to Pray

I was never good at it, even as a kid,
kneeling on the tile floor, elbows
kneeling on the tile floor, elbows
on the pieced quilt, hands
folded, a collapsible steeple.

When I shut my eyes, I didn’t see
God, but silver bullets and horses
cresting the horizon of hills.
What I was told to say to God

about my soul, my blessings
felt muzzled by an inside voice,
one that wanted a fast new sled,
more of my grandmother’s dimes.

I knew my mother prayed daily
that my grandmother’s brain tumor
would shrivel to a raisin.  The grape
enlarged to cluster and she died.

I never got the inside voice
to hush, stop interrupting, making,
grocery lists, quit asking how to miracles
and seeking explanations.

It kept up such a racket:  argue,
measure, translate, deny.
Compose, regret. Then my mother
died.  Voices lost their sound.

Now I know silence as a kind
of prayer, a voice asking nothing,
tired of words, tired of lifting up
and tying down, tired

of grammar, syntax, left brain.
Prayer finds its own release,
the hand and breath of God
calling forth a chord.

It’s no struggle
tuning this instrument
I’ve never held, playing
a score I’ve never seen,

the song untethered from its notes:
acorn, feather, moon.

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