Prayer for Reconciliation

By Kelly Rowe

In the study that a child playing hide and seek
once called the messy room,
in a drawer, in a manila envelope, still sealed,
I’ve filed the police report on how you died.
It will stay put: it will age, though you don’t.
I’ll open it today.
I’ll never open it.

Here, photographs spill out of boxes, and you
return, a small boy perched on a stoop
in tiger pajamas. You grin, flashing
little white cub teeth; you claw at the blue sky
beyond a black and white world.
You are about to climb a tree, to grow
feathers, to rise, to become cloud.

God, come to me.
You know I’m an unbeliever,
but I can’t open that envelope alone.
Gather in all the small lights
that flicker across the universe,
and make a torch; hold it high,
lead me into the cave

where tigers gnawed on bones,
where trapped birds flapped and dropped,
through the narrow passage
into the great room, where, illuminated
on the high wall— horses thunder,
legs curled, legs reaching out in flight,
shoulder to shoulder, sister and brother, above
the river they rise—one great gold mane
streaming endlessly back.


Kelly Rowe’s full-length collection, Rise Above the River, was the recipient of the 2021 Able Muse Book Award, and will be published in 2022. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Child Bed Fever, selected for the 2021 Rane Arroyo Series, and forthcoming from Seven Kitchens Press, and Flying South on the Back of a Dove, runner-up for the Robert Phillips Chapbook award (Texas Review Press, January, 2019). She has recently published poems in journals including 32 Poems, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Salamander, and New Letters. She lives in Flagstaff Arizona and works as a volunteer attorney, representing undocumented women.

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