POETRY: Evening Prayer by Louis Glück

Evening Prayer by Louis Glück

I believe my sin
to be entirely common:
the request for help
Masking request for favor
and the plea for pity
thinly veiling complaint.

So little at peace in the spring evening,
I pray for strength, for direction,
but I also ask
to survive my illness
(the immediate one)—never mind
anything in the future.
I make this a special point,
this unconcern for the future,
also the courage I will have acquired by then
to meet my suffering alone
but with heightened fortitude.

Tonight, in my unhappiness,
I wonder what qualities this presumes
in the one who listens.
And as the breeze stirs
the leaves of the little birch tree,
I construct a presence
wholly skeptical and wholly tender,
thus incapable of surprise.

I believe my sin is common, therefore
intended; I can feel
the leaves stir, sometimes
with words, sometimes without,
as though the highest form of pity
could be irony.

Bedtime, they whisper.
Time to begin lying.

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