David Jauss

A Widow's Prayer

Hands are born old,
already as lined
as my face is now.
No wonder palmists claim 

they foretell our future.
But at eighty-nine
the future is past
and my palms map the way back

to the old country, where Mother
stroked my hair and sang
a whispery sleep song.
I can see her face 

close to mine in the dark,
I can hear her voice,
smell the smoke curling
from the snuffed lamp.  I am there 

every day now.  Sometimes, though,
I am my mother and I sing
my son to sleep so sweetly
he knows no war will ever 

take his life.  Other times
my husband is there too,
shaving before the mirror
just as he did the morning 

he died, his mouth twisted
to one side, lips puckered
as for a kiss.  His hands
were big and square, 

too callused and clumsy
to touch me the way I wanted.
I miss them.  I miss
everything.  When the nurses 

turn out the lights
a prayer rises in meó

Oh Lord, please . . .

then suddenly falls 

like a bird that has flown
into a windowpane.  Mother,
everyone I have ever loved
is dead.  Where are the words 

that would forgive a crime
that ordinary?  Those pure words,
so obscene you can sing them
only in the dark.


Donna Daughtery 2.jpg (104015 bytes)


(photo by Donna Doughtery)