The Magpie Evening: A Prayer
When magpies die, each of the living swoops down
and pecks, one by one, in an accepted order.
He coaxed my car to start, the boy who’s killed himself.
He twisted a cable, performed CPR on
The carburetor while my three children shivered
Through the unanswerable questions about stalled.
He chose shotgun, full in the face, so no one stepped
Into the cold, blowing on his hands, to fix him.
Let him rest now, the minister says. Let this be,
Repeating himself to four brothers, five sisters,
All of them my neighbors until they grew and left.
Let us pray. Let us manage what we need to say.
Let this house with its three hand-made additions be
Large enough for the one day of necessity.
Let evening empty each room to ceremony
Chosen by the remaining nine. Let the awful,
Forecasted weather hold off in east Ohio
Until each of them, oldest to youngest, has passed.
Let their thirty-seven children scatter into
The squabbling of the everyday, and let them break
This creeping chain of cars into the fanning out
Toward anger and selfishness and the need to eat
At any of the thousand tables they will pass.
Let them wait. Let them correctly choose the right turn
Or the left, this entrance ramp, that exit, the last
Confusing fork before the familiar driveway
Three hundred miles and more from these bleak thunderheads.
Let them regather into the chairs exactly
Matched to their numbers, blessing the bountiful or
The meager with voices that soar toward renewal.
Let them have mercy on themselves. Let my children,
Grown now, be repairing my faults with forgiveness.
© Gary Fincke