An excerpt from

by Eric Ormsby


This was his rosary of olive wood
Whose ninety-nine black beads hang from a cord.
He bought it on pilgrimage, while still a child,
And always it looped down from his grimy hand.

The rosary’s repose is serpentine.
It lies in its fat black coils in asp encirclings
And viper-rippling rings
And when I pick it up the dark disks click

Between my fingers as I breathe the names
God gave Himself before the world began.
Creator, Fashioner, Immortal One,
Enduring, Living, Mighty, Merciful...

The strand yields to my impatient hand
with staccato softness of its vocatives:
Victorious, Compassionate, O Listener!
Resurrecting and Extinguishing, Unique!

But I pray better with the voiced
Beads of the rosary, and not with names.
My supplication’s in my fingertip
That slides the awed wood down the hidden thread.