Here kneels a power, “Hail Mary,”
old women chanting “Holy Mary,
holding their children and
their children’s children
in their hearts.

Don’t ask them what they’re doing.
They can only speak in ancient words,
stirring a shared consciousness
that fills and warms the early church.

Their prayer cloud envelops the stranger
who slips into the last pew,
and seeps through cracks and opening doors
to warm snow-covered people
out on West Johnson Street.

Soon Bethel Lutheran, two blocks away,
will fill its walls with prayer.
As Beth Israel and Temple Beth-El did yesterday;
the day before, the Muslim Centers.

Prayer clouds gather,
prayer clouds grow.