A Small Prayer – a cento by Mara Fein

A Small Prayer

a cento in homage to David St. John, 24 lines from 24 poems from Study for the World’s Body

I talked again about changing my life. 
“I can’t believe how much the world has changed.
A single cloud descended like a hand. 
Nothing stops it, the crying.”

My aunt shrugged,
dragged a folding chair onto the fire escape,
as the fog both offered & erased her in the night.
“Sometimes the drawers of the earth close,
rain enters in a diary left open under the sky,
yet no memory is stilled.” 

She laid out the morphine.  
“How softly the night steps toward us,
set loose above the stormy waters, 
shimmering in its elaborate webs of infinite.
Starlight litters the slowly falling dew. 

The syringe still hanging limply from my vein, 
the hammered whiteness 
cracks under my feet as I walk this long corridor. 
I pick my way slowly through the rubble 
along that sun-and-sin-lit landscape. 

Then it hit me,
a man with less than perfect faith in any God. 
The shadow you once blessed. 

Mara Fein‘s poetry has most recently appeared in Poetry Quarterly.  Other work has appeared in Jonah Magazine, Poor Yorick, Tahoma Literary Review, and Wilderness House Review.  She holds a PhD in English from the University of Southern California.

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