Friday, January 4, 2013

Prayer of the Wasted Life

1.4.2013 Prayer

I have wasted my life.
          -James Wright

This is a prayer for all of the wasted moments,
days, hours badly spent, forays into the Internet
jungle-land of links from the launch of the words
symptoms of recurrent breast cancer. For tangled
sheets and novels whose plots and themes are
long-lost, for staring at the ceiling in the dark, trying
not to blink. For wasted fivers at coffee shops,
and browsing bookstalls waiting for delayed flights.
For batches of chocolate chip procrastination
and Scrabble moves, and movies, and the weather
underground. For taking way too long to choose
outfits, trying sweater after earring, convincing
yourself you require new shoes and a more neutral
color scheme. For subsequent stops in shops or www
whatever dot com to search for nothing you need,
shelling out money you don’t own. For magazines,
and staring out the window waiting for dawn, or night,
or the mail truck, or the right line for a failed poem.
For lingering near the duck pond for no good reason.
Arranging books on shelves alphabetically and by
size. To what purpose? For cleaning, and getting rid
of stuff and writing long emails. Wiping crumbs off
counters, and streaks, and smears of butter-substitute.
Cooking, generally, an excuse not to do something else.
Weeding. For God’s sake, a waiting room, is what this
looks like.  Outside, why are those trees just
standing there? Bum-birds hitched to their bum-limbs.
Wind blowing errant tinsel and what-knots
hither and yon. Everything waiting for the cows
to come home, when they won’t, ever. They’re cows,
and need to be driven. This is a prayer for
the gorgeous, blessed waste of it all.


  1. Oh Eva, so joining Facebook ends up here? Okay then.

    I probably couldn't find my way here again, not sure if I back out or what.

  2. Life is what we're doing, when we're waiting to discover what we "should" be doing. Bum-birds have figured it out. You too, evidently. Blessed be.


  3. Love this poem. Thank you for posting it, writing it, thinking of it to write.
    It reminds me of a favorite quote by Annie Dillard: "How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives."
    The blessing implicit in that, and the terror.

  4. Thank you for these comments. I just read a wonderful essay by poet Mary Ruefle in which she talks about the importance of "wasted" time in a writer's life. Doesn't the word "squander" feel good to say? Is there a prayer buried in there, I wonder?