Where My Prayers Went
A friend asked me to pray for her.
She does not know
my most awful secret:
I do not know where my prayers went.
Maybe they are aloft in winds
that were never scooped up for review.
Prayers decades old—each launched with
anticipation’s faint acrid film upon my tongue.
“Prayer can move mountains,”
Sister Pauline told our second grade class.
So I spent my recesses and lunches praying
for almost an entire school year.
Well, nothing changed.
And those were my very best prayers,
I said them exactly as I was taught.
I do not know where those prayers went.
I kept praying. Later, I tried
new gods, old gods and made-up gods.
In Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew…
Alas, I do not know where those prayers went.
I prayed fervently for love
for decades. On pillows, onto sleeves, lapels and
into tissues and into every blackness that
that my desperate hope led me. Without question.
Maybe I was facing the wrong direction
or did not have the appropriate attire.
Finally, I stopped praying—because no god that I knew of
knew where my prayers went either.
Even if a deity appeared, it would take an eternity
to hear all my tearful requests.
Even if they all arrived today, sorted by topic
and arranged by urgency.
So, when someone asks me to pray for them,
It is the kindest thing that I can do.
Because I do not know where my prayers go.
I hope that one day
I’ll find all my prayers
caught in some trees or maybe
strewn on a beach like starfish after a storm.
I will gather them up
and hold onto them forever.
Because everyone wants to know
where their prayers went.
by terre spencer