On Being Called to Prayer while Cooking Dinner for Forty
are snapped away like a painted shade,
and every creature called to account,
please forgive me my head
full of chickpeas, garlic and parsley.
I am in love with the lemon
on the counter, and the warmth
of my brother’s shoulder distracted me
when we stood to pray.
The imam takes us over
for the first prostration,
but I keep one ear cocked
for the cry of the kitchen timer,
thrilled to realize today’s cornbread
might become tomorrow’s stuffing.
This thrift may buy me ten warm minutes
in bed tomorrow, before the singer
climbs the minaret in the dark
to wake me again to the work
of thought, word, deed.
I have so little time to finish;
only I know how to turn the dish, so the first taste
makes my brother’s eyes open wide–
forgive me, this pleasure
seems more urgent than the prayer–
too late to take refuge in You
from the inextricable mischief
of every thing You made,
eggs, milk, cinnamon, kisses, sleep.
From The Charge, by Patrick Donnelly (Ausable Press, 2003);