Joy Icayan The 2River View, 9.3 (Spring 2005)
Catatonic in Prayer

The truth is that he's left his body, the raised arm
the slightly open mouth—that’s no longer him.
He watches his audience from somewhere, smiling
at how they try to rouse him from sleep
But if you stand close enough, you’ll hear him
tell the stories of his years. Once, a flood came
to engulf him and tired of running, he merely stood
and prayed he would float, like the rest of us.
That’s him, prayer granted. No one should feel sorry,
not you clutching my hand in terror. The truth is—
he won’t hurt us any more than the dishes you left
in the sink last night, the cracked ceiling waiting
to fall on our heads, the baby in the background
we forgot to feed again this morning. And we wonder
how we can press our skin against each other
while we dream of the years other people live,
how the tongue keeps still in the other’s mouth
without knowing it’s there. Or how we let cockroaches
crawl on our bodies even before we've closed our eyes.

The finale is what we wait for, he’s dropping his arm
and the story’s over.
Still, I have to accustom myself
to the air that fills with your fingers slipping
slowly, that neither of us will notice.

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