Prayer In Wind by Eva Saulitis
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After a devastating diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, biologist and poet Eva Saulitis found herself gripped by a long-buried childhood urge to pray. Finding little solace in the rote “from the fox-hole please Gods” arising unbidden in her head, she set herself the task of examining the impulse itself, waking every morning in darkness to write poems, driven on by the questions: What is prayer? What am I praying to? What am I praying for? Who is listening? Each day’s poem proposed a new and surprising answer as, over two years, she traced the questions back to her origins, her Latvian roots, her peasant grandmother, her war-haunted father, her secret-bearing mother, her childhood Catholicism, her obsession with the natural world. Moving from inward to outward, among radically different geographies (coastal Alaska, Latvia, and Hawaii) and spiritual influences (Catholicism, mysticism, Zen Buddhism) as well as forms, these biologically precise poems range widely in their search. Unexpectedly, these prayer-poems, forged out of a solitary confrontation with death, take a reader not out of, but deeper into physicality—of the body, the earth, and language itself. As Saulitis learns, what is most desired is not transcendence, but for as long as possible, “her hands thrust deep in the world.”