Skip to content

Alicia Ostriker – Ⅲ

Prayer in Autumn 





As to the deep ineradicable flaws

in the workmanship


anger and envy

anger and envy


stemming from the overenthusiasm

that rises like a water lily from mud


and the stone

of self, of ego


that insists on its imperial monologue

that strangles its audience


I would like to repent but I cannot

I am ridden like a horse




What does the contriver have in mind

the contrivance wants to know


because otherwise what is the point

of all this moaning


pretending to be sorry for everything

groveling like a chained-up snake


crawling over a stone book

in the rain of words


for which someone is responsible

until at times the food devours the eater


the pot wishes to speak to the potter

the clay chooses the hands




We are not competent to make our vows

we are truly sorry


we pull you down from a cloud

or bend our knees to you like sideshow dogs


death breathing invisibly next to us on the bus

in the office in the kitchen on the park bench


we promise to love only you

faithful, faithful, we promise


we lie, we are not competent

still we implore you


please look at us and take us in your arms

not like a master, like a mother