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Most often, your trouble is beginning –
so many activities more alluring.

Try as you might, you’ve never regretted
having prayed (once you’ve finally started).

You know of others in your church life
who gush, sincerely, about prayer times.

These people discomfort, fascinate you
who can’t view yourself in a drenched state.

And yet (and yet), you are jealous,
desiring what you do not possess.

You know their pools of deep communion
did not create themselves, did not appear

some autumn morning in their backyards, water
PH-balanced, free of bugs and fallen leaves.

But rather, the steady labor of years—
so much digging, so much dirt to move.

It all comes back to a work of the hands.

Nathaniel Lee Hansen’s chapbook Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian was published by Spoon River Poetry Press in 2014. His work has appeared in Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. His website is

Image by Andrea Rose/Flickr, under CC BY 2.0 license.