I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

I don't know where prayers go,
	or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
	half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
	crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
	growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
	along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
	of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
	call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
	or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that's their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don't know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn't persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don't. That's your business.
But I thought, of the wren's singing, what could this be
	if it isn't a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Morning, 2012, p.3

Photo: New Yorker