Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
November 19, 2017
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Order of Worship–Arthropoda, Jennifer Sterling

Spring 2000, vol. 4, no. 1

The hymns of the locusts brushed by me,
hoarse praises on hot air
raised up, then splintered on a dry breeze.
I prayed with cicadas
lifted up my palms with the mantis.
We lifted up our songs on wings and sent them over the warm night.
We deafened ourselves with psalms of longing and desire.

By August the song had died,
dried into a rasping shell of the old self left behind,
into a thin and skittering benediction,
a silent exoskeleton
still grasping when set upon a banging limb,
perfectly preserved
in the image of the soul’s most recent death.

We were laboring and raw
and could not crawl back into the old ways
even through our most evident wounds.
Is it glory or terror
that the thing we thought must surely hold us together
is now so small and so easily crushed?
It still looks so much like us.

Another summer night we gather
none of us the creature of the year before.
We lift up songs on still bent wet and fragile wings
send them over the warm night.
A resurrected chorus, we sing now with voice restored
sursum sursum
sursum corda.

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