'I hold my life above a sieve'

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There is a long and ancient tradition of poetry as a form of prayer. Here, in a poem from his new collection of new and selected poems, The Naked Prince, South Carolinian poet Ben Greer brings to my mind the faith we have in words, even as he contemplates the comforts of his own faith in God.



by Ben Greer

Sometimes my prayers are short
they stop above my head
and God must bend to lift
the ones which I have pled
not nearly hard enough.

But when I think again
about my little pleas
is it some kind of sin
to offer them with ease?

I’m getting old, not long to live.
I hold my life above a sieve.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Ben Greer, 'Ease' from The Naked Prince, New and Selected Poems, (Press 53, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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