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  • Confessional, and: Prayer
  • Becca Barniskis (bio)


Not the small box smelling of stale breath and velvet dust, not the kind of poem that starts honestly but veers into bathos— rather a white page, much like this one. In it I tell you exactly what I did, where, with whom. I also tell you— You have read this far. Then I have forced you to admit you are curious. That you think human error a spectacle— I will continue, but only if you promise to look away while I speak. [End Page 175]


To Our Lady of the Gnats:

Mother of Most Everything Winged, Feathered, Scaled in Glory and Designed to Bite and Multiply in Several Tones and Tenors—

Make me to better understand the sour whine of flies that clutch at garbage and signal to me their crude intentions with those awful rubbing legs—

Lift the butterflies that stream from my mouth high into breezy currents of sun. Shelter them from the rip and tear of the approaching storm—

Help me to better understand the ticking sounds that issue forth from the light fixture those nights we argue about fidelity, fairness, and our words prick and sting—

Dear Lady of the Haze, lead me soft at twilight out into the yard when clouds of gnats rise to flick their specked prayers against the streetlight. [End Page 176]

O Giantess Among the Small-Legged, teach me patience: how to love the ragged magnets slipping from the fridge, love the stale, the crusted, the weary dredge of days, the dog-eared marriage and all its failures, but most of all the nigh invisible world that hums beneath my feet, the foundation, up under the eaves and out past the reservoir—

Teach me to listen without trembling to the sound of a million miniscule eggs letting loose their small-winged messengers. And grant me the strength not to turn away but to take their teeming business as my own. [End Page 177]

Becca Barniskis

Becca Barniskis’s work has appeared in the Laurel Review, Red Rock Review, and the Northwest Review. She has been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board literary fellowship for her poetry.



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pp. 175-177
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