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Why Mrs. M Requests Our Prayers

Erika Howare

She is ready to fast and be riven.
She is emaciated by a basement ballet, by
patterns of song spilling onto the melted lawn.

At the long table of supper and schoolbook,
she entered this life with choirs nastily lifting her name
up to the Lord and the littlest child

pinching out altar candles. There were people (a tenor,
an alto) watching a Christmas cactus bloom
on top of a broken TV. There was her nth son

pitched his tent in the vestibule, repented
all Sunday and tested the mettle of bells as we waited
for his speaking in tongues to wind down.

Thus is she riven. She is asunder, she is alone
among men and beloved ways of asphalt
disguising itself as frozen ponds, though whiteness

as absence is different than purity. She knows
morning's items and trespasses, orange peels
in meaningless piles, things that wait for a turn

on the phone. No one is anyone's one
true wife, she knows. What she would like to point out
is the culvert icicle in the elbow of the sheep farm.

It has grown three feet long. It is not permanent.
It will die for our sins. She has cancer and is having
her voicebox removed on Monday.

Erika Howsare

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