K.L. Johnston

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Prayers of the Righteous

On the Sunday after our first child’s birth,
you went to the country church up the mountain,
wowing the tiny congregation
with your classically trained alleluias.

They begged you to return, not knowing
they would never see you again,
that your bon homie was just a part
of the upward spiral before you crashed.
They promised to pray for you and your new family.

I wondered when you died
if those good people kept praying
for that odd stranger with the voice of an angel,
who came among them and took away a fleeting hope,
who never returned because that’s the way
you met the world, searching out praise
and doling out disappointments.

Over the years, was it the prayers
of those simple righteous folks
that kept our children safe
from your version of nurture,
from the nature of your disease?

When you slipped away from their memories
and their last murmuring prayers failed,
when your glorious voice was forgotten in sorrow,
is that when you could let go,
and we all came to know peace?

Second Call

The first calling was
to tend a garden.
Next is the call to
say yes, stretch out a
hand or open our
eyes, be delivered
from our demons and
above all things to
be still and listen.

The second call is
to set aside the
tyranny of the
urgent and come down
from our tree, or pick
up our bed and walk,
to listen, listen,
listen when we are
told “go out from here
into those lonely
and wild places,” where
you will be met.

K.L. Johnston’s most recent poetry is found in literary magazines including Wild Roof Journal, Humana Obscura and Tiny Seed Journal. She is also a contributor to the anthologies Botany of Gaia and South Carolina Bards 2022. You can find more of her work on her Facebook page, “A Written World.”

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Artwork: L’église de Varengeville à contre-jour (The Church at Varengeville) by Claude Monet, 1882. Public Domain.

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