I leave the hard liquor and the loud talk,
that special pot of New Years’ souse.
I seek the quiet my elders taught:
As the night turned, as the year turned,
bad leg or not, my grandfather knelt before
his sagging armchair, prayed the way a man prays;
down on one knee, leaning on one elbow,
bent forefinger and thumb pressing the bridge
of his nose. My grandmother, in her plain,
white apron over a flowered shirt-waist dress,
knelt and leaned on the worn leather of a wooden
side chair, head bowed, hands clasped.
As the night turned, as the year turned
they performed their solemn duty.
They prayed us through, they prayed us over.
This night, I slip into a small bathroom,
kneel before the unrenovated sink,
pray the next ones through and over.
December 20, 2015
Kate Rushin is the author of The Black Back-Ups and “The Bridge Poem.” She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University and has received fellowships from The Fine Arts Center In Provincetown and The Cave Canem Foundation. She has teaches poetry and African-American literature. Her work appears in Poetry From Sojourner, Sister/Citizen and Raising Lily Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy The Workspace. She is a regular panelist on “The Nose/The Colin McEnroe Show,” on WNPR.