by Neil O’Hara

It’s a hard discovery,
a rough lesson to learn,
what it’s like when all the lines are closed,
the doors locked,
lights turned off,

ears and eyes and nose stopped up
and hell bangs on your head
like it was an empty pot,
and the echo of it,
blocked in,
rings on and on and on like a clock striking.

Then a prayer escaped me,
a plea slipped out,
Lord, that you
would smash that pot to bits,
break it to shards,
and never let the pieces meet
in case, like survivors,
all they can do together is remember.

That, then, was my prayer.

Child, consider this stream here –
the banks overgrown
lock their fingers above it,
dampen its chatter,
conceal its path,
cross out its memory,
weaken the felt pulse of it –
but it still flows.

And the stones that fall in
I will lift them out.