J. K. Durick is presently a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Steam Ticket, and Big River Poetry Review.
My mother would always say a Jesus prayer,
Not the one about mercy and being a sinner,
But a simpler one she learned from the nuns
At the cathedral school, part of that perfect
Childhood she was always telling us about.
It went, all for thee sweet Jesus, all for thee.
That was it, the whole thing, but she said it
Wherever it fit, as filler for prayers, before or
After, a transition of sorts, a pause between
The more elaborate Our Fathers and Hail Marys.
She also said she said it to herself when she felt
She needed its consoling words, when things
Went wrong. She lived through her husband
And a son’s deaths, hard work, and her efforts
To make our small world better than it was.
I don’t remember hearing the words, except
At prayer time, but I remember her silences
And how, if you looked closely, you would
See her lips moving, as if she were saying
Something important about the moment.
She even got me saying it, back then when
Faith was easier. Now, I know its worth lies
In how it moves away from the speaker and
Doesn’t bargain with God, asks for nothing,
But offers up the “all” of a given moment.
I’d like to think that when she died that Jesus
Himself came out to greet her and thanked her
For the “all” she dedicated to him all those
Years, time after time. I still can hear her saying
The words in her calm whispering voice.
Always teasing us
I’ve seen horsemen,
A hand reaching down
Pulling the mountains up,
A spider holding the moon,
Some flowers in the sunset,
Some others in the stars.
I have seen tomorrow
Tumbling at us, gray waves
Topping white, crashing
Over swimmers’ heads,
Heads bobbing like apples
On the horizon.
I’ve seen God hurl lightening,
Whole herds of sheep grazing
And angels on guard at gates,
And perfect windows with
Faces looking down at us