national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011


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.