Amidah (Standing Prayer)

               On the path to the river, 
        nature’s rarest colors: 

cadmium. Blue that once meant
              holiness. White here stands for 
        cool observation: 

telephone wires ruled low 
             across the tree line, steeple 
      a shard or tooth

investigating heaven. Why do you study 
              so slowly 
     and pray so fast? 

A young maple 
              lets loose a chord of leaves. 
     Opening notes of autumn: 

step over the waste 
              of wild apples softening 
       in bluestem, take 

what’s still clinging, 
                its unexpected sugar. 
       Once tame-seeds 

spun far 
               from cultivation. 
          Each smooth stone  

a standing prayer 
                water pronounces 
         daily, counts 

coin-like: who 
by who by who. 
       Multiplies by 

our likely endings: wandering 
                by sword by beast 
        by thirst. Across the eye, 

concentrations of light’s 
               labor—black eyed 
       Susan, cardinal—and its 

diffusions: blurred faces 
              of trees, family of partridges. 
        In winter, 

these materials in relief: 
                 fresco of refuse, rooftops 
             bowed with snow and 

unasked questions. 
              To ask 
       forgiveness, I trace  

my outline of soot and cheap fabric, 
             argument 
and salt, give away what I can.
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