Poem of the Week | July 01, 2019

This week we are delighted to present our new Poem of the Week “Headspace Prayer” by Felicia Zamora!

Felicia Zamora is the author of the poetry books Body of Render, winner of the 2018 Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press (2020), Instrument of Gaps (Slope Editions 2018), & in Open, Marvel (Parlor Press 2018), and Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (University of Notre Dame Press 2017). She is a 2019 CantoMundo Fellow, won the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse, and was the 2017 Poet Laureate for Fort Collins, CO. Her published works may be found or forthcoming in Academy of American Poets (Poem-A-Day), Alaska Quarterly Review, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, Lana Turner, North American Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, The Georgia Review, The Nation, Verse Daily, West Branch, and others. She received her MFA from Colorado State University where she teaches creative writing courses online and is the Associate Poetry Editor for the Colorado Review. She lives in Arizona and is the Education Programs Manager for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.


Headspace Prayer

The cattle dog peers out from the hen house;
protection in all the curious senses. Your silhouette
behind an old barn window, both of you wearing your
age in the misty afternoon. You both came to be
erected here, by determined minds & the hopes of
what hands may do; how service & art are somehow
sisters. The fly in the lampshade putters sporadically
around the bulb, bumping a small body over & over
into rounded plastic; the fly in the lampshade
resembles rain, & even after the rain begins, you do not
know which summoned which. & a prayer lives here,
quiet like water pools in sag before droplet; this prayer
you do not yet know how to decanter, but you’ve tasted
enough blood & licked enough bodies to know when
to take things slow. You think of Limón’s sharks & her
rivers, your rivers & yet not, & wonder if the fly spun
circuitously long enough, would it stop wanting forest?
The pasture? The lake? The guts of overgrowth?
Across the field, a rooster crows; outside the upper
barn, rain ceases, hallelujah, & inside as well, hallelujah.


Author’s Note

Our cognitions make us complex creatures. Our minds and our abilities to think, reason, feel, and communicate immerse us in experiences of the world in which we are in a constant state of present. “Headspace Prayer” evolved from one of these viscerally present moments when I was questioning my mind and body in place. I was at a residency in Ardan Lough, Cavan Town, Ireland, sitting at a desk with my eyes fixated on the late afternoon rain outside the window. The trip was for my fortieth birthday, to work on my newest manuscript. Really, though, this trip was about giving myself distance to think, a moment to breathe. In two years, I’d had a lot of changes: new job, new state, new books, new community, new routines, but also being so close to the border and having my Latinx body take up space in a state with such physical and linguistic violence toward migrants, toward humans who desire safety. I felt heavy, felt like my brain was in constant chatter, chatter to do more, be more. I questioned my poetry, my voice, my activism, my place in this world, and I questioned my own being. I had just read Ada Limón’s Sharks in the Rivers, and was ingesting her movement toward the difficult, toward the self rather than away. I was entranced with her words “Come here shark,” her words “I birthed myself into an animal being,” and I was thinking of my connectivity to all of it—life in present. It was then, one of dogs at the residency stuck his head out of the hen house across the lawn, and I realized: I can’t run away from me. I can’t run away from my mind. I can’t run away from my desires to do more. I can’t run away from what haunts me or moves me or how I don’t know how to create me—I carry it all with me. This poem is a prayer to myself to hold and own the uncertainty, the doubt, my desires and the desires of other, my own thoughts thinking, and to give myself permission to be, without any requirements or containments.