Prayer

Trees and soil pray with wind

and if there’s no wind, they pray 

with stillness. If they are unmoved, 

they are closer to themselves. 

Wind prays in stillness to find its shape 

and prays in tree branches to hear 

the harp strings of winter, prays 

in ground leaves to shake the land, 

prays in green buds to awaken

the cardinal, for color to bloom 

a spirit of life out of Earth 

in places where my face is not known, 

where I tiptoe upon the rock 

of mountains who are in constant prayer 

to sky and sun. The sun prays to darkness, 

realizing it cannot see everything 

in the light. In the heaven of goodwill, 

of humility, and of compassion, 

our own begging becomes a rhythm 

of prayer, divine like a being who prays 

through their very existence, a prayer 

embodying form, movements, 

and one’s entire being, in the lungs 

and on the lips. No knuckles, 

no fingers, manicured or callused, 

can pry through this faith, these prayers, 

how they are lived, how they are voiced 

like the trees, soil, and wind.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Abecedarian for Abrazos

Abrazo is the word for hug in Spanish. Brazos is the word for arms. Carrying arms, calm arms, crazy arms wrapping around you. Daring to love you. Even just for a moment’s greeting. Fleeting and quick, or perhaps, at times, enduring. Grab you out of your own space and world, no, that’s not the type of hug I’m talking about. Hopeful, held, healing, those are the embraces I speak of. In this pandemic, I miss casual abrazos from acquaintances. Jolly. Kindhearted. Lovely, put you at ease, hugs. Make you feel like you know each other, trust each other, at least a little. Not awkward, a simple greeting. Or hugs of friends that might linger, like you’re holding onto something precious. Perhaps love, a caring, an importance. Quiet, unspoken, the work of brazos. Reaching arms, reaching for you, for me, reaching love, reaching. Sacrament, sacred. Trust. Under the sky we have all been hurt beneath, same sun, same moon. Volumes of possibility. Where we all feel closer, safer, stronger. Xerox copies of hugs seem like all I have. Yearn, I yearn for that closeness I never knew I would miss. Zero hugs from friends now, zero from acquaintances, zero is too few and yes, I miss them without having known I would have.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Dear loved one

who finds my writings after I die,

This is a confession. I want you to see me 

through my words. In life, 

I wanted someone to see me, 

perhaps we all do in some way 

or another. See how tortured I was 

about the future of our planet, 

of our children, about their promised 

adventures to famous rainforests 

and sunsets of gold that might hold them 

in a light that makes this life endurable, 

even incredible. I want you to see 

how I fell in love with art and writing,

with the way artists create 

with pieces of their soul they can’t part with, 

but in the end, let the pieces go, the way 

colors fade in and out of being each hour. 

Tibetan sand artists create the most 

intricate designs in chalk, leave them 

to rain, wind, time. I tried 

to create beauty like that. Nothing 

is permanent, I know, but I worried 

about why our world didn’t change 

for better. In the end, maybe 

it doesn’t matter. I hoped to form 

some truth between flight patterns 

of butterflies and buzzards. I imagined

something different, but in all of it,

I just lived day to day, being human.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

The trees spread out

At sundown, we said goodbye

to several species, knowing 

at dawn they would be murdered 

for their bodies. I wonder 

sometimes what my mother thinks 

about the trees being taken, 

about the planet having a fever, 

ground hardening, water coming 

with storms of rage. Here, 

there is frozen grass, crunching

under foot, a wildness sprung 

from weeds. The cool tint 

of winter light in branches, a quiet 

before a slaughter of aging trunks 

and the wisdom they grew with.

I wonder if my mother knows 

what projection is, if she would say 

I project my own humanity and fear 

onto the trees or if she knows 

I hug at least one of these mammoths 

every day, no matter the color of sky, 

no matter the temperature of earth.

.

-Liza Wolff-Francis