Prayer, a Poem by Glenda Taylor


Saying the word God is placing
a flaming arrow on your tongue.

As sacrament, it may be meant
to ignite, in its instant flight,
not insight, but a blaze of wonder,
awe, even. As such it is an
arrow pointing beyond reckoning,
toward Immensity so vast
as to be unspeakable, the definition
“God: that which is too much for words to say.”

But, oh, don’t savor the word, lingering,
(“God, God”) tasting it and rolling it on the tongue
like your own treasured morsel; and
for sure don’t swallow it whole, thinking
to consume, ingest, or otherwise subsume
God, God. Sacrilege.

The word’s an arrow, flaming,
meant for instant flight;
it soon burns clear through anything
that would hold it.

Oh, you may extinguish it,
with a clammy certainty of faith,
but you have then dry sticks, no fire,
for such prayer as that
is only a way to limit, thus
to say, somewhat smugly, that though
what really matters can’t be said
you can rest easy, sure,
that the word is, somehow, heard.

However…Something in us,
still, now, always,
something big, big,
surely beyond words,
calls us, calls us,
nonetheless, to be
at least the string in
arrow’s bow, bent
to set that flame in flight.

Taut with this unimaginable intent,
we do our own utmost earnest bit
(“Oh, God! Oh, God!”),
and then, and then,
this word, this breath, this unword,
a prayer, becomes (it’s true)
arrow’s flame, sent,
flaring comet’s trail,
lighting the way, farther, yes,
than words can say, to a place
we find, and finding, find
we know.

Image Credit: Comet, NASA, via Wikimedia, Public Domain