A prayer

Jennifer Pruden Colligan



A carrot cake’s smooth

cream cheese frosting

melts over raisins, plump,

brown women wrapped

in shawls of coconut.

My tongue slides between

them. I take their blessing

in between my teeth.


Light penetrates

the interstices of the leaves

to warm the forest floor

just enough for



The slope of a child’s cheek

falls away beneath her lashes,

the ropes of her hair

bind my wrists.


Words shimmer in the air

just before they reach my lips.


I hear them in your voice.

I open my palms and they land,

spreading like light

leaking between my fingers.

I will take them between my teeth,

let them shape my voice.

I will sing

lullabies, hosannas,

songs of freedom,

while your lashes stitch closed your eyes

and your ears curl away,

shells in the ocean.


Jennifer Pruden Colligan lives in Nassau, New York.  Her work recently appeared or is forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Journal, English Journal, Ginosko Literary Journal, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, and Blue Collar Review.   She was a finalist for the 2006 Gival Press Poetry Award.