Seated Prayer / by Lily Greenberg

I always knew you
In your mother’s arms, I have called your name.

“I’m tired,” I say, my tunneling mantra. You know that I am not speaking of sleep. You hear the foundation beneath the iceberg. You hear weariness, because you know how I stretch. Every context embedded into your palm.
I’ve an idea placed in your mind to be a better man.
With squeezing hands, I lurch with the world around me, overwhelmed by the knowledge of a perverse reality, where sisters and brothers are excluded for ancestral proximity to the equator, where the crashing waves of affection are forced into ice cube trays, where the water color spectrum of human tendencies is bleached and dyed until all that we see is black or white.
I’ve made a crown for you
Put it in your room,
and when the bridegroom comes,

there will be noise, there will be glad,
and a perfect bed.

And still, a technicolor vision burns beneath my lids. I see a kingdom of harmonic dissonance, of melodies that grip our wrists until we unstack the walls, release the bricks, and open our hands to a marriage of wind and water that cannot be frozen.
And when you write a poem,
I know the words, I know the sounds
before you write it down.
Translation. Translation. I compromise with words, negotiate with the emotions that pull my stringed legs, argue with memories that recrystallize each time I twist the lid. This is what I am trying to say: description is a picture frame. I want to roll up my metaphors into a whip-like towel. I want to leave burns across your neck, pink like my collarbone where I rub and rub.
And when you wear your clothes,
I wear them too. I wear your shoes,
and the jacket too.
My sweater sleeves hang long, covering my wrists. My fists close over the ends. I examine the seams, but any red thread is beyond my vision. Your craft eludes me. We take hands over steaming plates and my eyes are locked open, my breath at a standstill. I wait while they pray.
I always knew you,
in your mother’s arms, I have called you son.
I’ve made amends between father and son,
or if you haven’t one,
Rest in my arms, sleep in my bed,
there’s a design to what I did and said.

“For I know the plans I have—“ I have closed my ears to bumper sticker salvation.
Rest in my arms,
And yet,
sleep in my bed,
here I am—nodding, kneeling—still.
there's a design—waiting—to what I did and said.