Bio Note: I live in a small, light-filled condo in Los Angeles where I'm more likely to hear trash trucks passing than birds in the trees, but it's a good place to write and paint and I like my neighbors. Also hummingbirds visit my balcony often and I frequently go for hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains and elsewhere. My most recent chapbook is a collection of poems from the desert called It Isn't That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018).
Wanting to Pray
If I could connect to the rivers under the streets, swim to the sea, I would jump in. Too far removed from my childhood faith, too long in the habit of questions, I want something to pray to, therefore I pray not so differently from the man with his head pressed to the concrete beside a tree, his greasy hair falling forward, his backpack and plastic bag dropped nearby, as if he’s found scripture written on a manhole cover, as if we could map our way back to the common good.
With a different history I could not rest by the river where two boulders lean over the water, held back by a tree they collided into years ago. Neither could I bathe by starlight in a private garden, only a little spooked by woodrat or raccoon scrabbling and snarfing in the dark, or walk naked to the cottage screened by rhododendron, hot water steaming from my skin. The grove of olive trees, the path leading into dusty foothills, have not been spoiled for me. Not a question of beauty or the lack of it, but of luck, never to have met someone twisted enough. By a creek in the woods a flicker of movement and there she is, upwind of me, fifteen feet away, cougar I’ve been seeking for decades. She doesn’t see me as she comes my way. Only when I stand and shout does she lift her head to stare into my eyes. Never have I had to fight to keep my life or surrender to keep some of it. With cougar or with bear don’t run. With human keep on talking so he’ll see you as no threat, submissive maybe, someone he doesn’t need to kill.
©2020 Penelope Moffet
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