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Another Kind of Prayer: 3 poems by Sally Rosenthal

Photograph of a dog, a black Labrador retriever with kind, gentle eyes, lying down next to a green ball, image by Rebecca Humann, on Pixabay.

Labrador retriever, image by Rebecca Humann, on Pixabay


Mid-morning, the rituals of prayer

and chores done, I sit nestled

in silence, grateful for time

to sift floating half-formed ideas

as they filter into cohesive themes.

I sort and juggle dancing words

that skip into place by their own volition

or, through grace,

into poems that pierce the quiet.



An unlikely cast of characters,

we gather in a nursing home room

as we play our human and canine parts,

beeping equipment the sonorous score

of the last act of a dying woman’s life.

Honoring her wish to see dogs

before cancer carries her far from

the antiseptic smell that cannot mask

the odor of decay and fear,

my husband and I wear hospice tags

and have brought our Labradors who cuddle

beside her as she beams with gratitude.

Forming a circle of compassion, we are

held, for one exquisite moment, on eternity’s threshold.



This morning, with my husband dead four years,

no words of prayerful thanks come,

the daily gratitudes stick in my throat,

lodged between a bout of grief and unexpected anger.

Normally nourishing, silence offers no repast,

and the day ahead echoes with emptiness.

“Take all of this!” I barter defiantly

with a deity I hope still listens

to another kind of prayer.


Sally Rosenthal, a former college librarian and occupational therapist, is the author of Peonies In Winter: A Journey Through Loss, Grief, And Healing. Available at Apple

Books Peonies in Winter: A Journey Through Loss, Grief, and Healing (Unabridged) on Apple Books Also available at and Amazon. A poet and book reviewer,

Sally lives in Philadelphia, PA, where she listens for words in the silence of the everyday.

October 2023 Issue

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