Man's Shadow

Man walking through stark landscape, doesn't know how he got there, how long he's been walking, whether he was conscious before he began walking. Unsure whether he existed before walking. He stops suddenly upon seeing his shadow stretched out before him, deep and black. He is afraid it is a hole, an opening into nothingness, perhaps into extinction. He is, in short, afraid. He stands long in contemplation and then decides to move. Just that, to take a step. He takes a tentative step forward and falls.

Man falls.

He is in blackness, the only sensation the rush of air past his head, cold on his cheeks, his arms. He is now a man falling rather than a man walking. He still remembers the walking, though. It is still a part of him here, now, in the falling.

He imagines that he will hit something, that he will eventually land and it will not be pleasant. Man forms of himself a ball, a fetal ball hurtling through blackness. Man imagines that his life, this brief candle flame, will soon be snuffed out. He tries to remember his life, before the walking. He tries to remember his name, if he knew other people. Man tries hard to see other people, their faces, their hands. He has touched others, he is almost sure of it. But why remember for soon it will all be gone, all that is Man, all that constitutes his life, such as it is, either long and rich or short and pointless? Man forms a word, a perhaps meaningless word, yet it is there in his consciousness, one word.

The word is prayer. He wonders at the word prayer. A man who prays. He wonders if he is a man who prays and if so what that means.

Man continues to fall, wondering.

And a prayer forms like a picture left behind on a steamy window. Where is that window? It is in the man. The prayer begins, God the Father. Why Father? Man wonders. Does he have a father? Is he a father? The word has connotations that Man is not prepared to decipher. And then, God. A stickier word. Man decides that it is not important that he cannot define these words. He decides he should pray anyway.

God the Father, he begins. Who am I?

Man praying. This is Man's prayer.

This is the prayer the man offers up as he falls. And he is comforted just by the forming of these words. And then he adds, just before the falling is over, just before for this Man the falling and the walking are over:

God the Father, Man adds. Who are you?

About the author:

Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published two novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue (2002) and We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006). He has also published numerous chapbooks and one full-length poetry collection, Some Identity Problems. His book of short stories, Listen, will appear in 2009. He has been nominated for a Pushcart numerous times, and one of his poems was chosen for Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. With his wife, he runs Burke's Book Store in Memphis, TN. He can be found at