Prayer Body by Charlie Hopkins

Prayer Body


My eyes were empty graves I dug with my own hands.

Now they are filled with sky.

My heart a bone with all the marrow eaten out.

Now it is your flute.

What was obvious has been concealed by

I desire and I do not desire.

Now all I want is you.

I hear your voice

coming from a vase of yellow peonies swarmed with ants


Do whatever you want.

I also hear the waterfall of praise

as pine trees stagger in a drunken April wind.


Go to the Master whose robes

are not made of hundred dollar bills

whose hands are human hands not flowers

whose smile is full of yellow human teeth.

Go to that Master and kneel

by the flooded river he makes of your own heart.

Now I wash my feet with tears and dry them with my hair.

Our bodies are condemned at birth.

There is no herb for the dead.

We run, we tire, we stagger under pine trees towards the grinding teeth

but with these hands I borrow from the dead

I will praise the creator and destroyer.

Let my body have what it deserves:

the embrace of friendship, the consolation of ecstasy.

In the insufficient light of evening when stars fall

I will give you back these empty hands

and you will give me your hands in return.

Copyright 2000 Charlie Hopkins

Charlie Hopkins is poetry editor of this website.

More about Charlie Hopkins

This page was published on February 25, 2000 and last revised on April 2, 2014.