664: Prayer Beginning with a Line by Czaykowski

664: Prayer Beginning with a Line by Czaykowski

664: Prayer Beginning with a Line by Czaykowski


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

As so many of us work to persist on the hedonic treadmill, to find more pleasure, to find some sort of happiness, it sometimes feels like we are acting out of desperation. Maybe this will fix me? Maybe this? What about microdosing or microdermabrasion? Maybe something micro will fix the micro me in this macro world. I am guilty of all of this. I want to be made better. I want the world to be made better. I want a quick fix. Or even just a fix. A slow fix would do just fine.

What I am learning to do, however, is to lean into pleasure a little when it comes, to savor it. I think it might be working too. At least I hope it is. I remember once when I was 15 and unsure of whom to ask for things: God, goddesses, the universe, the ocean? I remember I’d climb out onto my rooftop and stare at the clouds and then turn to watch people down below. I loved that rooftop because I was in the sky, and in the world at the same time. I could watch as tourists walked into various shops and I could hear the chef named Curtis down below singing his country songs as loud as he could. I was both in the world and not in the world and at fifteen that’s exactly what I needed.

I remember finding that song, “Your Song,” by Elton John with the second verse that started, “I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss, well, a few of the verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross,” and I felt like those lyrics were made just for me. Someone sitting on a rooftop all up in her own feelings. I think about that rooftop a lot, because it was where I learned my version of prayer. I would ask the clouds and the sky for a good life, I’d ask the clouds and the sky to be okay.

Today’s poem is that kind of prayer, a prayer for pleasure, for the brief moment of relief, to be made whole again. In this poem’s repetition we hear the desperation, but also the song.

Prayer Beginning with a Line by Czaykowski
by Pablo Piñero Stillmann

Throw me into a cloud o lord
with those awkward hands of yours 
that mean aught yet are—of it—all
o lord. Make the rain fall harder o lord wetter
as a reminder of our unreliability &
I’m even begging you o lord to laugh
as you watch me slip & fall & slip & once
again fall & laugh again as you watch me gather 
what’s left of my belongings o lord.
All clouds are at arm’s length o lord I guess
that’s what you’d been trying to tell me
o lord but o lord you’re so coy.
In this new cloud o lord my home
o lord make it seem as if all will be well o lord.
Lie to me o lord. I promise o lord I’ll still see
but even if it’s only for a moment
o lord let me gorge on this honey
before realizing just how deep I’ve been stung.

"Prayer Beginning with a Line by Czaykowski" by Pablo Piñero Stillmann. Used by permission of the poet.