Christina A. Sharik


“The Praying Hands” ©Copyright by Mike McGrathThey are not “Praying Hands” at all –
they are a prisoner’s hands,
bound together at the wrist
for reasons no one understands.
It is a simple pencil sketch
in starkest black and white –
but it puts the horror of the War
in a blinding light.
Two hands that speak of violence
although no word is spoken;
when I saw the praying hands
my heart was nearly broken.

Author’s Note: For Cmdr. Mike McGrath, USN (Ret.) former Vietnam POW – and an artist who has drawn many sketches for other books by former POWs, and has written his own. His reply to this poem was to thank me and to say that when they were tortured, they always wondered “why?” but there were never any answers.

The Praying Hands graphic is reprinted, by permission, from John M. McGrath, Prisoner of War: Six Years in Hanoi and Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, ©1975.