Prayer (9th Ward)

by Wendy Carlisle

Let there be winds, lord,
and let them blow,
you know how
and let there be water, too
and Lord, blinding sun, but make that later on
and standing water and let there be
filth in the water and oil,
and let the dead float up
against porch railings, Lord
with the chigger-rich Spanish moss
and let the chiggers be hungry for blood, Lord,
and let there be busses with broken-out windows
and let the kings of the city commandeer them, Lord,
for Wal-Mart runs and to drive through
the front of Frady’s One Stop
and Dora’s Super Market
and the Winn-Dixie on Almonaster, Lord,
and let, as we know you will,
the ages roll like a river over the levees
and over the dry tongues of the people.
But Lord let there also be song on those people’s lips
and in their ears One-A-Chord’s harmony on
“Sweeping Through the City”
and the Joyful Gospel Choir’s “O Happy Day,”
and anything by Miss Mahalia from Water Street,
and let there be a walking bass, a cornet
and drumming lord, drumming
and afterward, Please Lord,
let our children like the Children of Israel,
walk through the parted waters,
walk onto dry land.

Wendy Carlisle is the author of Reading Berryman To The Dog (Jacaranda Press, 2000), Several of these poems are from an unpublished collection entitled “Decocted Life.” She lives in Texarkana, TX. “My South” first appeared in Three Candles