All senses in oblivion drift away…
Earth ending, I went free,
left all my care behind.
—St. John of the Cross.
It is the feeling between my car and the front door,
when the night broods over suburbia, stars cloud-covered,
and a prayer is lifted up to the overwhelming black:
to a God who dwells beyond an atmospheric buffer.
I have tried to find you in the deepest reaches—
there was another shooting today, did you hear it?
It happened in a school or a church or a hospital,
committed by a deranged loner or a perfectly normal citizen.
The news came screen-scrolling across my mind,
numbing and muting any words, leading me out
into the world to see if anyone other than me was still alive,
still breathing, still sane. I drove the neighborhood streets,
the parks closed at dusk, the windows shuttered and barred,
and I passed down Annapolis Road to see used car lots,
mattress stores, and fast food chains, signs burning their letters
in my mind, but still I saw no one. Night of my soul, I have tried
to find you as I hear the cries stifled or try to stifle
the cries in my mind. I ask for wakefulness from their pain,
relief from war or storms or quakes or a list of things I can’t keep track.
I ask for the world when I was a boy and people only smiled,
adults only whispered among themselves things I wasn’t
supposed to know, but now all words are broadcast against
the black in neon tubes, commercialized sorrow-screams.
I ask that if this prayer is heard, make me deaf to the world
because I don’t have the ears to hear it,
nor the want to do anything if I could.