I spent years praying in the voice of a bullwhip
until I broke a heel one day while walking,
bent to fix my shoe and saw my face in a puddle
and realized I was in fact a riding crop, more sting than welt,
more martinet than full-scale danger.
I stopped, one day, in favor of my own face, my own smile,
my own slim crack of a voice that was not soft
but was not the bludgeoning tail I’d once admired
and sought for myself. It’s enough, I said, as is: just a quirt,
yet cold enough to do what’s needed as needed.
Save me, then, from overreach, from scheming to be
more than I am when what I am is more than enough.
I know a God who cares more for the long term than my terms;
I like that God a lot. I owe that God a holler from my own throat
even if it’s drowned out behind another. Sometimes that rough harmony’s
all we need. Sometimes a drive goes better
with the small sting
than with the bullwhip’s
skin-opening smack. Sometimes
we need them both.