Issue > Poetry
Ryan Teitman

Ryan Teitman

Ryan Teitman is the author of the poetry collection Litany for the City (BOA Editions, 2012). His poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review and other journals. He recently received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow. He teaches at Gettysburg College.

Hard Prayer

I walk home through the city.
The stars wait behind the clouds
like an orchestra for a conductor
and windows yawn open

all through the neighborhood.
Streetlights die off.
Storefronts clap shut. I stop
at a pearing tree, whose branches

curtsy with fruit. Saint Francis
carried two pears in his cupped hands
for months, until the sweetness
of rot called down hundreds of birds.

They perched across his body,
and he wore the flock like a coat
to survive the winter. My jacket
keeps out the chill. I walk home

though streets as quiet as confessionals.
Traffic lights shepherd nothing
but wind. I want to live
inside this silence—and ruin it.

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