national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011

Idolatry

Crystal Barrick  • 
Bennington College

 a gloss after Elizabeth Gilbert


Not all my prayers beseech you—
on the widest nights I’ve tied

 

a wire to a tin can, swung for the neck
of the nearest shining idol and howled

 

so proud. I needed answers right then
and no, not you nor the moon have ever

 

spoken down; not to me.

I am not ashamed

 

of a man’s teeth on my ear, his cold,
slick arms as he uncarefully

 

removes all doubt. I pull his brass hand
onto my thigh, and I

 

let it stay there, because I asked
him a question and he answered

 

it quickly. If devotion is diligence
without assurance, no—

 

I can never wholly worship you.