from "A Feeling in Your Head"
Dinner prayers took forever, and there was always the chance someone would walk past our kitchen window and see us on our knees getting religious.
I hated that, and adopted two strategies to cope. First, I kept one eye open, just in case someone came to the door. That way I could jump up and pretend I was retrieving a fallen fork. Second, to distract myself, I dropped tiny spit bombs to the carpet below. Entertainment, Idaho style. When I closed one eye and opened the other, the drip switched positions. Blink quickly, and the elongated drop jumped back and forth. During my experiments in depth perception and the elasticity of saliva, I didn't listen so much as let the prayer wash over me: bless the sick and afflicted, bless the widows, bless the missionaries, bless Grandpa Mac and his arthritis, bless Uncle Jim and let no harm befall him in Vietnam . . .
Befall, befall. In Vietnam, bullets could befall you, missiles, booby trap bombs, shrapnel, even knives. If my uncle didn't come home, my Aunt Karen, a no-nonsense woman with blonde beehive hair, would be left alone to ride herd on my three cousins. But prayer could cancel all that dangerous befalling. When we blessed the food, the words stayed in the room. When we prayed on our knees, the prayers curled upwards, like steam from a vent, like the soul leaving a wounded body.
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Lance Larsen's third collection of poems is forthcoming from University of Tampa Press this year. His essays have appeared in Agni, Quarterly West, Hunger Mountain, Bellingham Review, and elsewhere.
The entire essay "A Feeling in Your Head" appears in the current (Spring 2008) issue of The Iowa Review, a literary magazine based at the University of Iowa. Founded in 1970, The Iowa Review has been edited by David Hamilton since 1978.
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