Since 1996 Volume XXI
When I walk to my car I see him
kneeling on a square of dirt beneath a tree,
his forehead pressed against a patch of yellow grass.
I know he’s praying so I walk lightly, respectfully,
my head down so he won’t think I’m looking at him.
He’s maybe 23, thin and kempt,
his black jeans and white shirt clean, pressed.
Cars roll by, students chat into cell phones.
No one seems to notice there’s a young man praying.
When I get home I look up Muslim prayer times
on The Islamic Finder: Late Afternoon: Asr:
Immediately after the last time limit of Dhuhr
until sunset. He must do this all day,
no matter where he is, search for spots of earth
between classes, before work, after work,
like this one, maybe three square feet
beneath a young crape myrtle, native
to the Indian subcontinent, third largest
Muslim nation, with bark that changes color
and produces flowers of many different hues,
from deep purple to red to white with every shade
between, member of the loosestrife family
blessed with simple, ovoid, lustrous, thin-veined leaves
which release an aromatic odor when bruised,
and sets free, in autumn,
thousands of small winged seeds.
Previously published in 27 Views of Raleigh, Eno Publishers.
Copyright, Dorianne Laux.