Spoonful: A Gathering of Stone Soup Poets

An extension of Cambridge's Stone Soup Poetry Venue.

Poem by Shannon Mcginnis

Photo by Cindy Williams

Prayer Coven

This faith passed palm to palm like the salt
secret of bread, leavened and unleavened,
a tapestry of murmurs interwoven with tears
and fingers twined, like an ivy of strength.
So secret this gift of deep commune,
this power of prayer circles full of women
who understand the spiral down and up,
these adamant whispers, Amens,
desperate pleadings over husbands and children
empty pots and aching legs
reap answers so clearly drawn,
men have felt compelled to bridle them,
citing folly of temptress and witch.

Surely ghosts in the wombs of old women leap
at the salutation of the maiden,
knowing her secret promise,
and will call her blessed, bear her up in the circle
against judgment unwarranted.

Deep prayer pacing in dark night hours
while her household sleeps, unknowing and unconcerned,
cycles of blood and babies, secrets of bread and salt:
These are the teachings she keeps close to the womb
and is rewarded with the crisp sweet voice
of God in his signs and soft breathed still whispers
that men are too busy to hear.
There is medicine in the salt of her palms and tears,
potent with a knowing passed crone to maiden and on.

The archetypes she bears are too many:
White revival fan
busy over the bosom heaving with thanks and praise,
upraised palms over lips swollen and spoken dry with Pentacost,
full warm moist palms lifting the young to dance in spirit filled joy –
living stones
raising the promises of tomorrow
with arms made strong by the weight of their children,
not once temptresses, only ever the deceived innocent,
offering the sweet fruit out of love
and a wish to share these rare pure moments of knowing
with he who walked beside her and her God.

The blood and pain that brought her children
were even still sweet –
repentance and redemption at once.
That threshold of life her child passes over
is marked with the blood of her God’s covenant

And she teaches her daughters to listen
And pray.