Tag Archives: prose poem

The Laying on of Hands

So this is the way it happens. Somewhere around 3:00 a.m. in a bed not made for blood and screams, women hold the woman you love while you haul medical supplies, sterile implements, and oxygen tanks (just in case) from the midwife’s warm Taurus in the driveway. All the while you’re thinking, no, not now, in the morning maybe, the afternoon’s better. You had everything planned: people to pray, a ceremony to honor the seven directions, something to beckon the deer and the wolf. And you were even wise enough to think of the elders. But, now, you forget to light the candles, and far away, the elders are sleeping, cheap paperbacks spread wide like curtains over their exhausted hearts. And the prayer people across town dream of a man falling, tumbling through howling clouds, toward seas heaving at the waning moon. It is at this hour that you return to yourself, and remember what you knew before you knew how to plan, before you began scheduling your epiphanies. It is at this hour that you remember that only empty hands can cup the light, that mercy visits only when the last appointment has ended. So when you are called–If you’re going catch this baby, you better do it now!–there is no other way but to kneel since kneeling is demanded, to bow before the only heaven our body will ever know, to pull life, wet and frightened, into your palms and place him on the altar of his mother’s breasts.

from Feeding the Crow (Plain View Press), and The Road Home (Dalton Publishing).

For my thoughts about writing this poem, follow this link.

The Ultimate Contradiction, Concerning “The Laying on of Hands”

For the past hundred and fifty years, as poets stretched the boundaries of the poem, they came to some limits. One of those limits was that the poem is an artifact with rhyme and meter. Well they got rid of rhyme hundreds of years ago with blank verse. Shakespeare did that in some plays. Then they got rid of set meter with Old Testament influenced works like those of Walt Whitman and then finally in the twentieth century with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Amy Lowell and American free verse. As Pound said, “To break the pentameter, that was the first heave.”  But still poetry was in lines, in verses. Continue reading