A Naturalist’s Prayer
That Francis Galton ran the numbers
and found those names the laity whispered
when they bowed in nightly prayer
—the Royal family, Archbishop of Canterbury—
fared no better than the masses
(so sad when thinkers we despise
conceive an idea that delights)
says nothing: we need prayer
more than prayer needs us.
A life-spark animates all things,
charged Bergson. Counterswirls
in matter’s wasting breeze, we
(so sad when thinkers we admire
sift to historical footnote).
But who’s to say what’s tidier,
windblown ridge or Temple Mount?
Be honest; no pure thought
will move those whose living
is moving mountains. Valuable
by tons, something’s surely hidden
beneath the upright pines’
penetrating roots, or houses
could be stilted on the slope.
Faith never made us kneel,
we kneel to court belief,
and murmuring mouth our intent.
On your knees, then. Praise
all untouched by human hands
(or even the lightly handled);
praise our oversight, our scraps
and leavings—even what the fire
may take before we desecrate
the mapped and calculated acres.
Or, better yet, confirm
that bent close, the needled bough
still trembles when you hold your breath.