In the basement of the hospital
the lab tech pauses before the autoclave,
bows her head over a tray of stainless destruction,
and prays. I imagine her wearing a gold cross
or a headscarf, some emblem that could explain
love. But maybe she has pink hair and a nose ring.
Maybe she is planning to retire next spring.
Or maybe she is middle-aged and nearly invisible,
like me. She whispers
over scalpels, clamps, and retractors,
praying for their keenness and strength,
that they may be fierce in their terrible work,
that they may do no more harm
than necessary. She prays
for the surgeon and the anesthesiologist,
the nurses and residents, the patients,
the unbeliever—for me.
She closes the door, sets the timer,
attends to what’s next.
This is how prayer works. Blessings,
blessings on the instrument.