A poem by Jennifer Tseng:

Cardinal in snow, blood with wings,

fist of fire in winter wings. Sparks

from twigs of bodies touching,

heat we make for others. Elegant marks

made in secret on ether. Healing fever,

map of flaws, map of one’s salvation.

Here infinity attends to measure;

the hungry find transfusion.

Birds in formation across the sky,

cave for dreaming, nest for sleep,

wind, bee’s breath, tree’s sigh.

Rain pouring upward, water that leaps

at the mouth of God, a drink, a scrawl,

leaf that loves the wind too much to fall.

Sometimes the rhythm of chanting a poem is more important than the content, and indeed the act of incantation is sometimes the point. When I read “Prayer” I thought of Allen Ginsberg chanting “holy holy holy holy” and of the call and response of the mockingbirds outside my apartment in the morning. The bird song is more of a prayer than Ginsberg or any other poet, in my opinion—or at least, it’s more conducive to aiding meditation.


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