Prayer Underneath an Elm Tree in Late Afternoon – a poem by Laura Stringfellow

Prayer Underneath an Elm Tree in Late Afternoon
At the water's edge, I count 
Cypress knees, their knobby 
arthritic bones jutting from the ground 
like ancient stalactites.
Under the wind, the water's surface 
looks scaled, etched, much like 
the medieval scalloped roofs 
of the stave church at Borgund. 
I recall last Sunday's Eucharist. On Easter, 
through the sterility of bandwidth, 
I waded through the General Confession,
Prayers of the People, and lamented 
an absent sacrament. The night before,
I had politely declined the priest's offer 
to collect the consecrated wafer 
for Sunday's Eucharist, choosing to 
keep a safe distance instead. 
Today's prayer is uncommon and wordless 
but no less weighted with meaning. 
The winds heave their intermittent sighs, 
and the birds blooming in the trees 
are incessant in their song. 
I slough the burden of the last months
like heavy skin, the scales 
collapsing in unison at my feet.
I step out and lean against the fractured elm, 
in the knowledge that the limbs above me
shall share their own unspoken grace.

Laura Stringfellow writes both verse and prose poetry, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry, and hails from the muggy strangelands of the Southern U.S. Her work has appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including Right Hand Pointing, Clementine Unbound, Déraciné, Neologism Poetry Journal, Coffin Bell: a journal of dark literature, Ephemeral Elegies, and The Lake. Read more of her work at

1 Comment

  1. notamigrant says:

    very evocative, trees and river always my favourite but also reminding me of the fact i haven’t been to church since Feb – i too sometimes volunteered with the Eucharist but it has been solitary prayers of late


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