The Night Prayer’s Lord, a Poem

GrahamThe poem “The Night Prayer’s Lord” like most of the poems in my most recent collection, Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects (Wolsak & Wynn), pays homage to the late Irish poet Dorothy Molloy who, in 2004, died ten days before her first collection was published by Faber and Faber. Though I lived in Northern Ireland during the 1990’s I never met Molloy. And yet she became my spirit mentor while writing this book.

What originally began as a glosa became a sonnet. The italicized words are Molloy’s. They are from her second posthumous book, Gethsemane Day, and her poem, “If I should wake before I die.”

 According to T. S. Eliot, “The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.”

 My aim—to be a good poet.

 

The Night Prayer’s Lord

If I should wake before I die, I’ll be in a box. I’ll be

in the dark. I’ll need a bell to ring—Oh, let me

be Victorian. My breath on glass. The wet stone

in your hand. Help me out of this coffin. Don’t

let the woodworms in. Listen for the trapline going

knock knock. Help! Or I’ll take that beam out of my eye
by cracking the oak. Let second chance surge

through me like a Greek chorus—Saggy skin,

droopy eyelids, blue-veined hands, dryness

between the legs, the nameless faces—I’ll sail a boat.

I’ll learn how to fly! Re-activate adrenalin! Reap

the sown seed! Make life fit into the tunnel I have left.

Do all the things you don’t do until the one day

there’s nothing to do inside this massive oven.

 

after “If I should wake before I die,” Gethsemane Day.

 


About the author

Catherine Graham

Catherine Graham is the author of the poetry trilogy: PupaThe Red Element and Winterkill. Anthologized in The White Page /An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Her forthcoming collection, Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, will appear fall, 2013 with Wolsak & Wynn.

By Catherine Graham