The More Earnest Prayer of Christ

By Scott Cairns

   “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly …

                  —Luke 22:44

His last prayer in the garden began, as most
of his prayers began—in earnest, certainly,
but not without distinction, an habitual … what?

Distance? Well, yes, a sort of distance, or a mute
remove from the genuine distress he witnessed
in the endlessly grasping hands of multitudes
and often enough, in his own embarrassing
circle of intimates. Even now, he could see
these where they slept, sprawled upon their robes or wrapped

among the arching olive trees. Still, something new,
unlikely, uncanny was commencing as he spoke.
As the divine in him contracted to an ache,

a throbbing in the throat, his vision blurred, his voice
grew thick and unfamiliar; his prayer—just before
it fell to silence—became uniquely earnest.

And in that moment—perhaps because it was so
new—he saw something, had his first taste of what
he would become, first pure taste of the body, and the blood.

“The More Earnest Prayer of Christ” from Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems by Scott Cairns. Copyright © 2015 by Scott CairnsUsed by permission of Paraclete Press.