Containers that Hold Prayer

I’m not a person who prays, a man at Miller Manor says,
I have seen him eating the free breakfast at church,
but I look at trash blowing in the wind like birds and I feel

something. At the bus stop a man lifts a heavy trash bag onto the bus.

I fill Rosie’s large pain with this kind of untranslatable prayer.
I fill the space of the bus stop like pouring paint.
A burrowing, furrowing prayer.
A prayer that is an itch in my heart, a scribble in my brain.
Concussed soul, bag shaken and blowing, full and in flight, flit.

Above me sag balloons from Rosie’s birthday.
I filled them with my breath like in CPR class, then strung them up.
In the photographs from the party, she looks into the camera
as if she can hear only the wind
circling inside the cave of her own head.

I write as the baby sleeps, the monitor my disembodied boy, coughing.
I hear microphonic sounds of blankets shifting, skin rubbing against a sheet,
a fan swirling air in the room as if a microphone were in a balloon
with my breath inside, announcing our heartbeats and digestion.

About the Author:
Courtney Mandryk has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in journals such as the Michigan Quarterly Review, Adirondack Review, and Cimarron Review. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and is online at