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Gebet eines Ehemannes (A Husband’s Prayer)

By
November 1, 2010

You, author of all wonders,
shown to us by your many prophets

and instruments—our own shoemaker’s daughter,
illiterate and bent, who proclaims from her special chair

in the meetinghouse, who reminds us to be humble,
and not aspire above our station,

to find beauty in utility, and to beware idolatry—
you who chose to provide me with a spouse,

and a house, a barn and sheds, gardens,
a small orchard, a field rich with clover,

hives humid and speckled with pollen,
and who finds the greatest satisfaction

when we attend to three responsibilities:
to be a brother to another, to be a good

and kindly neighbor, to move through the world
with a mate; give me strength.

From the coolest and boggiest portion
of my heart, my worries multiply as spores

canker the apple leaf. My mate,
though weak, is there to help me

set aside my burdens, if only I could
describe them into the space between our pillows

at night. When thistles spring up in the field
of our marriage, when the noxious vine

twines onto the maple, let us pull it up
by its roots. When I gaze upon the gothic script

tattooed on the young gardener’s brown stomach,
strain to read it as it moves, remind me

my own name is written in the mind of another
however faint.

Let that be enough. Let me not dwell
on our weaknesses, on our smells, our shedding

skin and hair. There is a small chalet
somewhere on the cool green pasture

of an alp where we shelter, our heads
on the striped ticking, our hands

barely touching as we sleep.

G

Wunderlich(Mary_Jane_Dean).jpgMark Wunderlich is the author of The Anchorage which received the Lambda Literary Award, and Voluntary Servitude which was published by Graywolf Press in 2004. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Tin House and The Best American Poetry 2010. He teaches at Bennington College in Vermont and lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. Author photo by Mary Jane Dean.

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