So Be It, Amen

We bow our heads before dinner.
He prays; I recite the German
with a hushed voice—
not out of reverence,
but to soften the inevitable slips
from my English-led tongue.

*

When five sat at this table
we held our hands
in front of us
waiting for the Amen,
for hands to grasp our own,
a blessing pressed into each body
from each received.

I watched him
across hundreds of meals,
a generosity in his smiles
whenever my sisters talked
of new boyfriends
and, later, of marriage.

Forgive me, father.
In following their lead,
I did not know I knew
how to silence you.
Your withheld voice—
a demonstration
of what I could offer you.

I left your table, drove
to men who moaned
prayers into a hand or pillow,
urgent breaths breaking
against the stone ear of God.

*

Amen

One routine supersedes another:
a glance to replace the hand
he won’t offer.
What need for men to touch?
And I imagine, yet again,
seizing his hand—
the pressure from my own,
my only petition.

 

contributorphotoLucas Wildner is a poet, essayist, and teacher in southern King County. His current project examines the relationships between internalized homophobia and white privilege. Recent and forthcoming work lives at Night Music Journal, Honey and Lime, Nice Cage, birds piled loosely, and elsewhere. On Twitter @wucas_lildner

Featured photo credit: Amanda Ollinik @Allunderonemoon

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