For Urgent Prayer, Please Press 1

Am I in need
today? The Mercy
Church robocaller from
Marathon, epicenter where
Irma slammed trailers and cars
from the narrow loaf of land into
marinas like a waiter swiping crumbs
from a table, wants me to admit it, to say
yes, I have no more strength except in this pointer
finger, to leave my print on the keypad and unlock the rest
of this message. I could complain that I have run out of Diet
Coke; that the mango trees have forgotten that they already stretch
with the fetuses of fruit and bloom for the second time, throwing particles
of pollen into the eyes of the wind; that the elderly dogs can no longer sleep
through the night and begin to whine at 3 a.m. That the pool has become a place
for an iguana the length of a crop-bearing branch to garnish with salmonella. That this
is the year my husband and I both turn a new decade, and still sink, ankle-shackled with
debt. Or I could catalog our real traumas, our long list of overripe injustices—the ways our
bodies, bred Ashkenazi pure for so many centuries, have been passed broken genes, and how

we have rooted them in the Edenic soil, the kind that smells already like vegetables before
you even plant anything, of offspring. None of this is as exigent as weather turned into
spirals as if on a child’s Etch-a-Sketch, the rotting takedown, the invasion of biblical
street rivers no prophets can split to cross, afterwards the mosquitoes infused with
infectious disease laying invisible eggs in the cupped puddles of downed leaves
and fronds, the families homeless even as another hurricane season approaches.
No, Mercy Church, I am not compelled toward the singular digit, and it’s not
only a matter of the wrong programming of surnames. It’s more like I
require 2 for reluctant prayer, or 3 for an indifferent utterance to
YHWH, or even 4 so that I can unsubscribe from this service:
Push 5 to opt out for the rest of my life; 6 if I’m atheist; 7
agnostic. When my husband and I were engaged and
meeting with the rabbi, we asked if he could replace
the word “God” in the ceremony with “energy.”
Key 8 for his reaction. Storms have mostly
now to do with what we have done, how
much worse they get depending on
what—or who—we burn. Press 9
for the inevitable or, if you
insist, wait on the line
for the operator. This
might take a while.