Prayer for Henry James Dahl

(photos of Henry are here…)

Dear Lord, fire-eating custodian of my soul,
author of hermaphrodites, radishes,
and Arizona’s rosy sandstone,
please protect this wet-cheeked baby
from disabling griefs. Help him sense when
to rise to his feet and make his desires known,
and when to hit the proverbial dirt. On nights
it pleases thee to keep him sleepless, summon
crickets, frogs and your chorus of nocturnal
birds so he won’t conclude the earth’s gone mute.
Make him astute as Egyptian labyrinths that keep
the deads’ privacy inviolate. Give him his mother’s
swimming ability. Make him so charismatic
that even pigeons flirt with him, in their nervous,
avian way. Grant him the clearmindedness
of a midwife who never winces when tickled.
Let him be adventurous as a menu of ox tongue hash,
lemon rind wine and pinecone Jell-O. Fill him with awe:
for the seasons, minarets’ sawtoothed peaks,
the breathing of cathedrals, and all that lives —
for one radiant day or sixty pitiful years.
Bravely, he has ventured among us, disguised
as a new comer, shedding remarkably few tears.

(by Amy Gerstler. Originally titled “Prayer for Jackson”)

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