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Prayer Before Dinner

By Barbarajene Williams / September 10, 1992



Rub a clove of garlic around a wooden salad bowl. Tear red and butter leaf lettuce. Meditate on each leaf. Smell morning dampness in the turned soil. See first day's light anoint the heads of women on their knees row after row tearing leaves of lettuce. Hear the flinty whine of mosquitoes and cranky babies and the sighing mothers fanning the air with the wilting leaves. Listen. Listen to the kneeling women. Listen to them scold the weeds about their lives. Listen to the stories of their men on moonless nights risking the Rio Grande crossing for this. Watch the women turn at the sudden lift of wind, their eyes searching the distant hills. Smell blue diesel fumes. Hear a truck grind through gears. See the shining-faced driver wave from his window, crates of lettuce on the flat bed, shifting from side to side, the truck bumping down the dirt road to town and green aproned grocers and you bowing over a bowl of lettuce, scent of garlic melding with dreams. Yours are the last hands in the salad you are serving.

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