December 3, 2012 / Creative Writing
In “Prayer as Definition,” the poet Nicholas Samaras meditates on the essence of prayer as both conversation and communion, even with the barest of words.
July 17, 2009
From The Enterprise of Seeing, a manuscript of poems based on the photography of Saul Leiter.
Q: Which one is real?
Is it that one? That one on the left? That dappled gray with dark mane scraping his
hoof to the left of the lightpost? That aging percheron dappling the left and
dipping a bridle so low it touches its own looped shadow?
And by what criteria do we determine real? By the degree of detail? How that one on
the left parts twilight with the white patch on the tip of his brindled nose?
A: Or is it degrees?
Degrees of bright
clung to copper on the holdback?
Q: Or do we calculate the lumens along the limbers? The limbers that lug a ghostly hulk
of molted shadows?
A: As the horse’s neck bends,
a man is caught in the bridle;
shadow slides him free.
Q: But what does he lug beneath those shadows?
Does his driver deliver dream goods?
And what happens when the driver dips into the glass, slips past the jamb to stand
beneath a blurred poster? What does the blur tell us?
A: ARTXE DER
Q: And I remember watching them as they talked in the hall standing in their black coats.
I could see them if I pressed my face between the balusters in the upper hall, long
after I was to be in bed.
The men who came for evening prayers standing in the hall, holding their grave hats in gold
Quiet because it was long after I was to be in bed, but their prayers were a lustered song that
rose in silver echo as I lay in bed waiting for my father’s voice to end the prayer and
laugh them home.
Elizabeth Hoover recently completed her MFA in creative writing at Indiana University. Her poetry has appeared in the Atlanta Review, the Asheville Poetry Review, and Hayden's Ferry Review, among others. She was a recipient of the Won-Joon Yon Scholarship for Racial Tolerance and will be a resident at Writers in the Heartland in the fall.