When your prayer request isn’t just
for your grandma’s dog, you
quit requesting so much. Don’t
request at all, unless asked.
Then it’s How’s your mother
and you have to decide if you’ll
lie in church—Fine—or tell
it. She’s safe. She’s driving down
to Memphis again to check on him,
seems he’s got a cyst, dementia,
a severe lack of remorse. Could be worse.
Hard to know the sterile language
of medical. And you don’t when
you ask God yourself for healing,
for mercy, for deliverance, death.
You ask it like a child; the first
and sometimes only word is Help.

Renee Emerson is the author of the poetry collections Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing), Threshing Floor (Jacar Press), and Church Ladies (Fernwood Press, forthcoming spring 2022). She teaches for Indiana Wesleyan University online and homeschools her five children.