Prayer

“Let’s bow our heads together,”

the man at the pulpit says

and I bow my head and fold my hands

but before I close my eyes I see

that she is reaching out to hold

my hand. And so I reach out and clasp

hands with her, not interlacing

our fingers, just holding hands;

I think it’s to make the prayer

a communal experience.

But I feel every tiny muscle movement

that my hand makes and I worry

that she will think it’s awkward

when my thumb accidentally

squeezes hers too tight. She wraps

her fingers tighter around mine,

just slightly, a subtle gesture

that could almost go undetected,

but because my eyes are closed,

I have nothing else to divert my attention,

and I wonder if her tightened grip

has any significance. She moves

her thumb, just a hair’s breadth of

motion—but a motion that makes

my nerves tingle. I am worried

that she will sense my unspoken question:

that she will, through our joined hands,

feel my quickened, shallow heartbeat.

I wait for eternity, trying

not to let a single muscle twitch

and finally, blessedly, the man

at the pulpit says “In Jesus’ name,

Amen” and with a quick squeeze

we let go of each other’s hands.

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