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  • Prayer should be a tunnel
  • Jessica Jacobs (bio)

my Hebrew teacher says, and I'm a pig-tailed kid again, descendingfrom a blazing Florida day to the murky depthsof SeaWorld's Tunnel of Terror: a massive glass

passage through a seawater tank. Sharks glided by,fins foxed and furrowed as the edgesof old treasure maps. Far above, the inaccessible

surface rippled with a chainmail of light. Prayer should bea tunnel, she says again, making an Oof her hands and pushing it out before her—my teacher, also

a dancer, uses her body to create structuresin the air. It should take you there, she says. English isnot her first language, but by there, I know

she means God. By tunnel, I thinkshe means pipeline, a direct channel in. A signin line had shown an elephant perched atop

one of the tunnel's glass blocks to demonstrateits fortitude, to tell me not to be afraid. But I was,each shark with its hacksaw teeth was clearly meant

for me, and it was only a matter of time before onegnawed its way through, bringing all the waterrushing in. And what would happen first—

drowning or being devoured? For those, like me, rootedin terror, a moving sidewalk kept us in motion, easing usthrough the eerie underpass, acting

just like time, which moves us without the need for usto move, which moves us whether or not we want it to.Prayer should be a tunnel, she says, but what words, [End Page 169]

what melody, would let me make with my bodysuch grand architecture in the air, let me standin one place and travel both out and in, let me sink

and not drown, let me wander unafraid into the open mouthand emergeunscathed yet changed? [End Page 170]

Jessica Jacobs

Jessica Jacobs is the author of Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press, 2015), winner of the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry, and the forthcoming Take Me with You, Wherever You're Going (Four Way Books, 2019). She is currently at work on a paired memoir and poetry collection, which explores questions of faith. Associate editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and faculty for American Jewish University's Brandeis Collegiate Institute, she lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown.



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