Steve Gehrke

Reverse Abecedarian Prayer

Crystal Dialogue 5 by Lava Ghayas

Zero me out again, Lord. Reset me, as I know you can.
You, who I cannot find most days. You, who, like a wandering
X on the soul’s map, rebury yourself each day in me—
When you are gone, the world of things hardens around me.
Vistas misreveal themselves as veils. Each scene flat, unmoving,
Uniform. Gone, the canal in matter through which faith-blown vision sails.
Twice before, you remade me. Once, I broke and woke mid-
Step as I walked across the concrete floor of a psych-ward.
Reciting anything—poems, TV ads—to smother my mind with
Quotes and keep my circling thoughts from circling, my childhood
Prayers returned, still in-tact, fables from another life stored
Outside the oxides of time. Mouthing those words moved me
Nearer a locked door inside my head. At its threshold, you stood
Masked in flesh, a genteel ur-father, tender-voiced, patient, even
Lightly humorous, a disguise, I understood, meant to sooth me,
Knit from my subconscious, but no less you. And as we spoke, my
Jaundiced heart began to drain, the error code flashing for days
In my brain turned celestial. How mawkish that seems to say now,
How hokey to recall the love-for-all I felt those days, the trapped
Goodness leaking forth from things. Now the weed of irony re-
Forms, my faith a petal laid down in a breeze, each day now an
Entropy born of ease. Lord, was I only ever talking to myself?
Does it matter? You’re my savior even if you’re only me.
Clean me out, then, unclutter me. And if there remains some
Bit of glint, some last preserve, make of that inch of best
An ark and flood away the rest. Failing that, un-matter me.


About the writer:
Steve Gehrke has published three books of poetry, most recently Michelangelo’s Seizure, which was selected for the National Poetry Series. His awards include an NEA, a Pushcart, and a Lannan Literary Redidency. He teaches at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Image: Crystal Dialogue 5 by Lava Ghayas. Acrylic on canvas. 24 x 36 inches. By 2020. By permission.