Standing beside him

 

A new hour, a new day, a new Sunday.
I happened to be standing beside him
As he completed the canvass for me
Praying “Draw me, draw me, Spirit of God
That I may think what is Holy.”

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

Mary Oliver Reads Her Poem “I Happened to be Standing”

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