Tradition & Innovation

And There Was Morning: A Prayer for New Zealand

By Hila Ratzabi
tree canopies with light streaming through

The day returns stubbornly
no matter the massacre
the night before.
The sun spreads itself
through storm-worn clouds
as though the innocent worshippers were still
body-bound, blinking
open their bleary, grateful eyes.

The earth should have given
up its rotation or spun
itself out of orbit
when the man burst forth
into the mosque and broke
the hum of prayer.

What to pray for
what letters to thread
through the lung and heart?

In some of us the breath
still goes and comes
like the obstinate sun that touches
every inch of horizon.

What an orderly universe
to mystify the meaning-lost.
The morning’s beauty offends the dead.
The sun burns their last breaths of prayer.

Must we keep singing?

Prayers that rise like sacrifice smoke
the air accepts without question,
as though it isn’t listening at all,
as though the earth were too busy
from its work of turning,
too heavy from the quiet work
of holding us up.

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