Poetry: “Psalms for the Fallen World”

Joel B. Peckham Jr.


For when we come we must come
alone. Not with crowds or joyful
laughter or with the taste
of a lover on our lips, no. We will come
like this. 2:30 a.m. damp with sleep,
and fever, children emerging from
the night terrors blinking and
shivering. Still trying to remember
and forget, inarticulate. Waiting.


And yet we will come together, unaware
staring at our own hands, amazed at their size,
thinking they are wings. We come
eyes down palms up, speaking to ourselves
in low tones. Shoulder to shoulder on the same
narrow road, cars parked on the curbs. We
will come out of the boxes we had built
to protect ourselves, from cold and rain, each
other, you. And Lord, it will have been
a long time since we have done
anything but wail our sorrow and our need.
And yet we will come muttering in combinations
without structure or form or even sense
that we could ever know. Syncopated. Already
the sirens wail in the western parts of town
and they will cry all night. Already
the bedclothes are thrown back. We come.
We lift our chins and open throated, sing.

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