June 5, 2014

`The Broken Conversation We Call Prayer'

Patrick Kurp writes 'The Broken Conversation We Call Prayer' and in it introduces a new poet to me, Margaret Preston.

Preston continued writing into the late 1880s, when she became blind. Her husband died in 1890 and she followed in 1897. In her life is distilled the life of the divided nation, with her roots in the North and South, and so much death by war and otherwise….

One of those poems, also titled “Crossing the Pedregal,” is also spoken by a woman left behind – Mary Custis Lee to her husband, Gen. Lee, in the final days of the war. In the poem, Preston is writing on July 21, 1891. Her final lines transcend American history and speak for all who are humanly frail:

“When I was small I thought perhaps there was
A place of rest for us sometime, somewhere,
Where no one called and no one cried aloud.
I sometimes thought of death as offering that.
Your God is still my God and yet his Son,
Merciful and forgiving, now eludes me.
My sins are manifold. I feel myself
Exemplary of the seven and faith a state
I must remake each day, never a fixed
And steadfast thing like Thomas’s or yours.
As each sense fails, my consciousness narrows.
A deep fear comes and not a childhood dream.
I am not ready for my death. I fear
My fear’s betrayal of my long-held faith.
Nor is there anyone to comfort me,
Unless, in some form God shapes for our souls
I trust that you are here, that I am heard,
In the broken conversation we call prayer.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 5, 2014 12:19 PM | Permalink