Three Poems by Michelle Castleberry

Raccoon Prayer

And let us wash the crawfish and let us wash us
afterward and thank you and thank you and we will
wash the scrap of sandwich and eat what does not
dissolve for oh lord you take a portion and thank you
and thank you and we will keep the night watch and bear
our kits and we will wash our hands and bow over every
stolen meal and thank you for this honor among us.

Crow Prayer

Oh, Lordy!

Because you already know our hearts, 
Lord, we only pray so the others hear. 

Because you do not render this as blasphemy, 
we can say we believe less in You than magic. 

We believe less in magic than in the found corn chip, 
the stolen rivet, or button. 
For these are all testimonies of You. Take this as You will.

We have creation hung in our jaws and cough
our thanks from high nests for each perfect unlivable law.

We keep track of the breakage, 
for You love a tally.

We sound the alarm for the dumb ones
including those two-leggeds You adore.

We sing our praises from the craw
“Aw, thankee very much; we are much entertained!”

Who is so hardened, Lord, that they cannot hear our song?
Which is 


Deer Prayer

We leap and fall
and limn the air
with our leaping.

Perhaps we pray
too quietly.

Did You not hear?
It would seem that way
from our deaths
daily slain
by car or coyote
or the shout of a gun.

Perhaps we pray
too quietly.

We, prey to all
hurt and hunger,
still offer up
praise to You.

It is written
in our hoof prints 
on the earth
You made.

Our praise to You:
We will stiffen
and fall under the coyote,
around the bullet.

We will be bled and fed
to ones who
pray a grace
that can be heard
in the halls of heaven.

Michelle Castleberry is a writer and social worker in northeast Georgia. Her work can be found in publications such as Still: The Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, and The Atlanta Review. Her first book, Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems was finalist for Georgia Poetry Book of the Year for 2013. She is a Fellow with The Makery through the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky.

return to poetry                 home