As a child, I took delight
learning the names of the Saints
I could pray with to help me through,
this or that emergency, problem,
contingency, need – specialists,
really. Anthony for lost things,
Jude for lost causes, Christopher
(who I understand may not have
existed) to break traffic jams
and keep airplanes aloft, which
isn't hard, Nicholas
to get me on Santa’s list,
and so on. I did not “pray
to” them. Scandalous, that would seem.
Later, though, I learned “to pray”
does not mean what I thought it means.
It just means “to make a plea.” I could
pray to you if I wanted to. Prithee this,
prithee that – neat! That’s just
what they did formerly, medievally,
of old to their feudal lords, and
they weren’t worshipping them.
In my adulthood (so
having learned well enough
who’s who and handles what, I seem
nevertheless to have been
delighting in sending up
the perfectly right prayer
to the completely wrong guy (or
girl sometimes – as I recall,
most of the women saints
were girls, and had died so
sadly). Why? Some kind
of perverse urge, I guess!
Generally it would be a guy.
I'm a little shy around females
of stainless and perfect virtue,
sometimes. Depends on the situation,
but generally, it was a guy.
I imagined some of them might
have been annoyed.
They're specialists, after all.
The best there is at what they do, and
if you're St. Jude, me praying to you
about my car keys might strike you
beneath your dignity.
But would it? Would it really? Lately,
it struck me - I bet you’d be delighted
by a nice change of pace, now and then
in eternity. Wouldn't they? So, I don’t really
know if I should knock it off
People up there love me! To judge
by results, anyway
some of them do