December 6, 2017KR OnlinePoetry

Prayer with Wave-Particle Duality

A prayer that could happen at night, and near
night, in a garden, near a garden, near a famous
garden where couples fall in love, make promises
on stone benches, promises about the similitudes
and substitutions love requires, the physicality
of love, the dishes, for instance, that someone
must always do the dishes after dinner, and scrub
the dishes when the dishes require scrubbing,
which doesn’t always happen but happens enough
to feel like it’s always, and a prayer should avoid
talking about domestic tribbles, the frayed
kitchen towels, because a prayer is the same thing
as a thought but with a definite spin, a thought
that’s being watched, actively being watched,
so that the thought must act in the manner
of thoughts as we have come to think of them,
as linear, narrative, clinks in a tinkling chain,
let’s say, being pulled from the fancy bucket
your heart is until the weight on your chest
butterflies right out, unlike an unprayerful
thought, which exists as any potential future
thought at all times, so that the thought is
a vessel for all possible thoughts simultaneously,
and from the consistent manner of always
spinning in every possible direction—so that
the frayed bath mat is the first taste of ice
is the bill of a ball cap is the small of the back
is a worry about the small of the back
and the worry about the small of the back
is a worry about cancer and also love and how
it ages—we’ve come to know the gnawing
buzz of this as thinking, which, in the garden,
in the prayer of the garden, would, at least
in theory, line up, polarized with intent to get
one good line up to heaven or god or maybe
even just up, which is the way you can start
a prayer, meaning you’re the one who, in this
case, from a bird’s eye view, is down, is set
and total, not at all in flux and has ceased
to, on any macroscopic scale, vibrate between
wave and particle, because, even in an empty
garden, the thoughts you have contain, at least
potentially, the thought that you exist at all
is exactly what it takes to keep you watched
enough to stay solid, particle by particle the person
you are, the person with an opening line of
a prayer, or at least the middle part, the part
about the time you’d seen the woman dying
in her bed so slowly you thought with such
clarity about the peace her death would bring
if not both of you or just her then at least
you might begin to feel a little better, so that
when she did pass you had to question whether
or not your clear thought, your prayer, really,
was watched enough to make it rest in stasis,
to remain legible in the marginalia of god’s
sketchpad, which, that picture, that thought
of a doodling godhead feels, in the corpse-bloom
of the moon, near the nice garden that smells
like laundry detergent, fabric softener, a little
ridiculous, really, maybe unnecessary, given
everything else happening, that flux and stasis
exist in everything else happening all at once,
and what you can do about it is to imagine
while the water runs over your hands in the sink
a nice garden, and a stone bench, warm in the bath
of the moon, and the occasional mosquito
rising out of the soggy middle of the fallen
magnolia leaves, like a thought the puddle
might have about the joy of the air, sent out
into the world to drink, because it was born
from water and thinks this is how you pray.

Patrick Whitfill
Patrick Whitfill has poems and reviews appearing in the Threepenny Review, Colorado Review, Subtropics, 32 Poems, among other journals. Currently, he teaches at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, and he co-curates The New Southern Voices Reading Series.