There is only one prayer

shadows recognize,


only one they permit

to escape the center


of each night,

the pendular tick


of your grandfather's clock,

let run the sleepless


border of your bed,

or experience the heft


of her cancer,

the sinking of days


beneath her like sand:

Lord, let it be me.


Nothing else works,

nothing else evades


the simple truth

that God, the Irish say,


hates a coward;

they might have added,


prefers a deal,

requires a trade.


George Lober