Prayer for Immunity in Grand Army Plaza

Prayer for Immunity in Grand Army Plaza

At a quarter to dusk
a moon froze in the groin of an elm,
horses on the arch dragged their bronze wagon
through Brooklyn toward another war.

When I was young in the desert they warned
never walk arroyos when it rains,
water can crash down those gullies
in minutes, from a hundred miles away.

This street I love
could come apart that fast,
like bread in water.

But my love
is alive in a little town to the west,
where there’s two more hours of sun,
where there’s still time.

Does everyone in danger pray
the same stupid prayer?—
strike the next house, the neighbors
who had their love all along.

I found my life so late—
leave me a little time
to love his grayblue eyes forgiving
what is unworthy in mine.

Patrick Donnelly is the author of Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012), The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003; since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press), and co-translator with Stephen D. Miller of the Japanese poems in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period. His poems have appeared in many journals, including American Poetry Review, The Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, and have been anthologized in The Book of Irish American Poetry from the 18th Century to the Present.

“Prayer for Immunity in Grand Army Plaza” from Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin © 2012 by Patrick Donnelly. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books.

June 2012