Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

 

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

 

Pray for us now. Grade I piano scales

console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls

a child’s name as though they named their loss.

 

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –

Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

 

 

Carol Ann Duffy

Mean Time

Anvil 1993

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