Prayer Meeting

Listen to W.S. Di Piero reading this poem. Hankies and sheets, hopeless routine longing,

my mother and I, in the cellar twice each week,

her Sunbeam coasting under screws of steam,

me on my knees by the ironing board

to call Hail Mary’s. Our bodies vapored

into immaculate words. Shirt tails talked back. 

I wanted more than what I prayed for.

Her music-box antiphons mumbled us

around the decades. Neither of us knew

why or what we implored. God jerked alive

in repetitions. I reeled Him in. She must

have been appeasing me because she feared

offending Him, deity of hurt and rue,

of affliction and splintered rafters weeping

wan work dungarees, school uniforms,

all together in our separate voices. 

The God of iron, unsatisfied,  hissed back.