Gaza waterprayer
–after Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.”

Dear human body,

You do not have to be good or bad.
You do not have to pray angelic,
veil each thousandth tide this dying body.
You only have to let each shrivel
loosen and tell what it tells: fire from the air, fire from the sea.
Love me, shrivel to shrivel, as I’ve loved each unwanted red flower.
Meanwhile each cell of child in bodyprayer.
Meanwhile each fold my ocean still swell
awash such jail amassed through years, the terror each backlaw
bone grown brittle, dry from such weeping.
Meanwhile the quiet dust of sage and cardamom
still speak to the restless ones, the wild now resting in my heart.
Meanwhile we all are returning home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely
the trailing paper you condemn or praise, how ill the restless imagination,
it calls to you, swimming my waters, still wild in love’s embrace—
over and over announcing return:
simple prayer of each living thing.


Vanessa Huang is a poet, writer, and community organizer whose practice feeds the resilience and embodiment of people, campaigns, and movement building from the margins. Vanessa was a finalist for Poets & Writers’ 2010 California Writers Exchange for her poetry manuscript, quiet of chorus, which has been described as a project that “lifts up the often muffled legacies of resistance to genocide in contemporary life” and home to “lifeworlds that yearn for freedom and wholeness, and help enliven the path forward.”

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