Friday, May 14, 2010

xiii ways of looking at some prayer flags

Despite the cool spring wind
The prayer flags hang motionless.

I see their soft gray cloth
With the skin of
My feeling mind.

The prayer flags make friends
With the weathered gray wood
They rest against.

The travel of hornets
Is all one thing.
The way they buzz
The tattered flags
Is part of that thing.

The old dragon’s mauve jaws
Carry age and the droop of solitude
In the prayer flags’ upper
Left hand corners.

The prayer flags turn pink
In the softening light
Of April dusk.

Once a merry string of
Primary color,
The prayer flags take it easy now.

See how the flags resist
They hang like pale strips of soft iron
From ten-penny nails.

Beneath the prayer flags
And boards of smoke-gray wood
A strip of metal
Collapsed in last summer’s
hot June rain.

I tell the prayer flags
A couple of my best secrets.
The gunmetal dog with the fat jowls
Keeps quiet
While I talk.

I don’t see the prayer flags
In the inky air of this
Thick summer evening.
If I listen and hear
What’s behind them
I can see how their edges
Catch light.

A thick goldenrod cord
Takes care of all the prayer flags,
Marigold bright
Like a sign
On a highway,
Pinning them to
A buckled gray rail.

The storm has taken a long time
To gather.
When it does
It takes the prayer flags with it,
Squares of ash and rose
Cut free
By a big green wind.

--Laura Sorrells
January 2010

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or