musings of a lover… of … yes… that, too…

Ruth Forman: “I Wear Prayers Like Shoes…”

I post these words, ever so often, on my Facebook page:  “I love you. I REALLY do love you. VERY MUCH. And I take you with me into my prayer place to offer you before the God of grace and love. It is the BEST way I love you. I hope you receive it as the gift it is–from my great big heart. Love is my calling card, and I pray to breathe.”

Ruth Forman speaks of prayer as shoes that steady her for the day’s journey. For me, it is my very breath, the cloak of life that sustains me. Prayer is not a cop-out, an easy fix. It is an act of love so I may garner my strength and resolve to act. I wrote the poem below 10 years ago:

When I Don’t Know What to Do, I Pray for You

When I don’t know what to do, I pray for you,
A voice ascending to a distant and present throne,
The sound of a crone professing faith in you
And the divine impress imprinted on your soul

You cry into the hollow of my hands,
Confess your night terrors
And the times your mother caressed your manhood
Like a woman in need

You tell me how confusing it all was
And that the first time, you sneaked into the liquor
Searching for the elixir that would guarantee
You would forget—
You never did

And, though you loved her madly,
You could never look upon her breasts and be comforted
The way only a mother’s bosom can comfort a son
You explain to me the sacred math of reason,
How you went for seasons after women 20 years your age,
How you found yourself wanting a mother,
And yielded to this Oedipal urge that drove you
All the while you abandoned her—your own Jocasta
Who troubled you with her demons

You cry into the hollow of my hands,
Lean a heavy burden on my shoulders,
Sigh your curses into my hair
When I don’t know what to say, I hold you
Gently against my body and pray for you,
A silent petition for the healing
Of that first and fractured bond
Between a mother and her son

You tell me how confusing it all was
And how you found a toke and dipped it
In formaldehyde and stroked yourself
To sleep, crying softly and whimpering “Mama”—
How she tried to take it back the second
That she touched you, begged you
To forgive her, told you she was sorry—and drunk

You shrunk from her pleading
And told her to go to hell
Your words break and swell
In telling me as you cry your pain
Into the hollow of my hands
And I pray for you and hold you
To keep you from drowning
In your own confusion

When I don’t know what to do, I pray for you,
A voice ascending
A silent petition
A holy struggle
To deliver you from the fires
That scorch you still

(c) Valerie Bridgeman [Davis],
2002, 18 September

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