Two Scenes, Salat Alzzuhr
In a parking lot near not much,
a man lays his sajadat alssala on the asphalt
next to his taxi and bends himself in submission. He’s alone,
and the weather is cold, so he wears his coat.
It was quiet in that parking lot by the river,
only the suss of the eventide water,
and the quick rattle of the train with him, alone in his prayer.
I saw him once only, from the window
of my train into the city, and imagine
him now at each noon looking for out-of-the-way places to pray.
Back up to last June, a young man, slim as a wish,
works at Peet’s Coffee on L and 17th in Northwest,
a location always crammed with customers,
and with not an extra inch behind the counter,
all these people out to quick lunch, quick lunch meeting.
He unfurls his prayer rug on the sidewalk
and bend himself in submission, vulnerable to any
passerby who takes fright or opportunity.
It’s loud here, with lobbyists and think tank fellows
on their cell phones, the clatter and yowl of the city.
Everything about him, even how he moves, says new-here.
His concentration is tight, focused. He’s in the prayer, and he’s alone.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaSomewhere a human form
aaaaaaaaaaaaais being lifted from the ground.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa— Christine Gosnay, “Strangers”
The small mercy of the stars in all the whirl-
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaway aaaaaaafrom us.
The small mercy of the hawk’s talon.
The small mercy
of the wave that laps you,
aaaaaaaaif a little too
The small mercy of not living too long.
The horse aaaaonce stepped on my leg instead
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaof my head, and left a mark,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakind of second and deep bone
aaaaaaaformed in my leg, new scar in the tissue,
aaaaaaarather than a new scar on the earth.
The small mercy of tall boots.
The small mercy of no more anticipation
The small mercy of lifting the weight of the rubble,
there’s so much of it, so many cities shattered.
Can you offer at least that?
The small mercy of your clear
aaaaaahate, they see you coming, of they know
aaaaaaaaaaaaaawhat you look like and whom you hold dear.
The small mercy of the choice you will have.
The small mercy of dark matter, that it
aaaaaaapushes those stars away from our Earth,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaso that aaaaaawe’re left to our own devices.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaYou see, I know how my luck runs.
M. F. Simone Roberts works as managing editor The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database and Blog This Rock for Split This Rock. Roberts is an independent scholar of poetics and feminist phenomenology, poet, editor, and activist. Her poems appear in Revue Post and Poets Reading the News, with more coming soon. She tweets and ‘grams sporadically at @pomored.