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A Prayer from the Bend in the Trail

I bought this bench for twenty-five dollars. I searched the papers and called the seller, Drove to her house, and offered her twenty. She raised her brow and wouldn’t budge a cent. I came home with one less fast food combo In my future and a bench in my truck.

My wife helped me carry it to the woods, Along the trail I cut through junipers, Thorns, and clover, where slabs of native stone Rise, green with fungus, from the leafy earth, Like petrified sea turtles or sperm whales, Statues buried a thousand years ago.

We placed the bench at the bend in the trail Where there is little to see but the trees And the brown footworn path curving from view, Disappearing to the left and the right. Straight ahead is a young hackberry tree With two knots facing east, narrow windows

In a castle turret where snails stand guard. There are days when my children remember The forest, and I can hear in the trees The magical sound of faery laughter. They round the bend brandishing sticks, march past, And vanish. I watch with joy and envy.

Now, I have gone through all this trouble, Lord, To sit, and to watch, and to listen here On this old bench at the bend in the trail. Your humble servant has but one request: Would you please cast into outer darkness, For all eternity, these mosquitoes?

Your servant will return when this is done.

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