On The Seven Canonical Hours by Christine Potter

On The Seven Canonical Hours

O, Lord open thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth thy praise—Psalm 51

Since the fifth century, someone has been praying this, always.
It’s like the wind this morning that comes from everywhere

and hammers our shutters against our house, like drafts that
get in around our windows, like new sunlight that is sharper

each day with the coming of winter. Everything that shaded us
over the summer is being scraped away, flying and tumbling,

wings without birds. And with them, lauds, terce, vespers,
night watch, the slow caress of sun over our foolishness.

Open thou my lips and I will praise thee. Praise my fear, my
shaky witness, the thrill of seeing more than I wanted to, even

the ugly parade of white trucks on the bridge over the Hudson.
It tried for but did not earn my fear. Praise the faithful dead,

the constant, daily sweep of the hours, the astonishing energy
of every heart in the world. Praise dawn every day. What planets,

what pinprick distant star, what shivery moonlight? What water,
frozen or free, what tides! Open thou my lips and I shall praise thee.

by Christine Potter

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Editor’s Note: This is the poem none of us realized we needed, but oh, after reading it, we know. We know.

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim


4 responses to “On The Seven Canonical Hours by Christine Potter”

  1. Siham Karami Avatar

    Yes indeed this is brilliant, like sunlight on the trees is brilliant. It brought me to tears this morning, which is a form of unexpected, entirely unexpected joy. If that’s even the word. ❤️

  2. Evelyn Morgen Avatar
    Evelyn Morgen

    Loved “the astonishing energy of every heart in the world.” It gives me hope❤️

  3. Mitchell Geller Avatar
    Mitchell Geller

    Thank you for this; it is exquisite and extremely resonant for me right now, because I just reread two novels that I often reread this time of year; Rumer Godden’s “In This House of Brede,” and her “China Court,” in both of which the canonical hours figure very prominently.
    mitchell geller

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