Sometimes to walk slowly, barefoot, on rough concrete,
with the marks of the boards still on it, and to look up
at moonish smear of brightness on the cloud night sky:
Or to say a long and complicated prayer
composed in another tongue by someone
whose furrowed brow has had ten hundred years
to smooth itself to equanimity:
Or to examine my hands by electric light
and discover no mystery, no saving shadow,
but veins with ever less patience, and
less inclination to efface themselves:
Is it for this that I lay the offerings, the little bowls
of scented oil, the beads of amaranth?
Oh, forgive me! I have gone into the street
with the marks of a doughnut on my face
and given advice to young and trusting souls:
I should have said "just say the words and wait for God,"
but a man will be prating, when he's old enough,
when he starts to be afraid that a hand will come along
and cover the mike, and help him off the stage.