July/Aug 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 4 PoetryMarch 14, 2024 |

Prayer on the Theme of Adoration

God bless the mothers, barefooted and burning, who’ve entered the underworld of the kiddie lagoon, braved the fountains’ shooting, a toddler on each hip, into the drift of ankle-high rivers, forgetful of their own hours as they wade deeper in tummy-control Lycra whose gingham prints, spots of leopard, neon ruching mask the incision marks from which their infants were tugged; God bless the hands of mothers slathering sun cream, fastening hats, securing rash guards and goggles, remembering swim diapers, water socks, foam noodles, midmorning snacks, inhalers and EpiPen Jrs, the hooded towel into which they will— after “Just one more round!” of feigned shock beneath the toppled waterwheel—fold their children (trembling and blue) as if back into the cocoon of predelivery, holding them, drawing them farther away from the crow that—God bless—has lanced its beak through a can of Fanta and is jack-pumping its face onto the sidewalk to try to shake itself free. And to tha

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Photo of Shara Lessley

Shara Lessley is the author of The Explosive Expert’s Wife (University of Wisconsin, 2018), a winner of the Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize, and Two-Headed Nightingale (New Issues, 2011), as well as coeditor of The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice (Pleiades Press, 2018), an anthology of essays. A former Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, Lessley has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Washington College’s Mary Wood Fellowship, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Colgate University’s Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship, and a Discovery/The Nation prize, among others. Her work has recently appeared in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Magma, Bennington Review, IMAGE, and Best American Poetry 2020 and Pushcart Prize anthologies. A consulting editor for Acre Books, Lessley lives in Dubai.

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By Shara Lessley

God bless the mothers, barefooted and burning, who’ve entered the underworld of the kiddie lagoon, braved the fountains’ shooting, a toddler on each hip, into the drift of ankle-high rivers, […]

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