While earth, great dumb stepchild of the sun
lumbers slowly round First Day again,
a dusty caravan clops and pads
up the steps to the meeting house.
Each creature carries a weight of silence far
deeper than words can find, each knows in every hair
and hoof and paw, feather or fur, unspoken watchfulness
but comes, just for an hour to lay it there.
A donkey stretches his ancient back but keeps his cross,
two elderly cats, a rabbit and a rat knit their paws,
the cow rests her heavy luggage on a convenient bench
and rumbles quietly. A hiss of sheathing, of retracted claws.
Only a monkey, eldered twice, mutters, sulks
upside down from the lamp’s bald electric wire.
Tigers, unlikely to subscribe to Peace, are held in light
but not invited, except to the safe perimeter of prayer.
Dear Quaker Animals, how like your two-legged Friends you wait,
gentle for this morning, mild of face,
if slightly worn and puzzled,
deep in the thickets round the watering hole of grace.
~ Kate Foley.