What We Already Are | Shenan Prestwich

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What We Already Are
After Rilke

I crossed the grass slowly
with the sagging garbage and thought
that maybe this is praying.
Maybe prayer is not
entreaties for action, reaction,
or answer, not a call and response
with comforts we’ve written in the skies,
or the words of what we want, and want known,
but the breath of our questions, formless,
passed like a note to no one, and thus free
for a moment, for us to hold
in our lungs, and out, beating
against the roof and swooping back into us,
take long, stinging drags off it, watch it
as it leaves us, dissipating and filling
the unoccupied space between things,
not clamber to name the unknown
colors painting our veins, but let them run
in rivulets through us,
see how the light changes them,
and changes us into what, hardly sensing it,
we already are in the mid-winter sun, filtered
by a brightness and a cold.
How else would we know how it feels to live
with the ache and astonishment we call breath?


Shenan Prestwich is a Washington, DC-based poet and graduate of the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing program. Her work has appeared in such publications as Slow Trains, Pigeon Bike, Dirtflask, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Orion headless, The Camel Saloon, Seltzer, and The Baltimore Review. Additionally, Shenan edits Magic Lantern Review, a journal of writing and film. In addition to writing, reading, hearing, watching, and sometimes tasting poetry, the wide array of things that make her happy include cognitive research, bluegrass, long drives, the great outdoors, good people, and bad karaoke.

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