Ozark Prayer of the Virginian Sunset

By Madison Tunnicliff

Frayed cloth on my grandmother’s dining room table 

Gathers into pear colored waves beneath my elbows 

As my hands raise to form the steeple where I utter my first prayer, 

Scabbed palms pressed to meet my nose, 

Sunburnt from yesterdays’s afternoons-- 

May I be worthy of my meat,” I whisper 

Into clenched hands ready to bare fork and knife 

To meet tooth and bone before my grandmother 

Takes her guiding hand to mine; 

Wrinkled years of worship in her skin press 

To my scraped hands and 

She tells me, 

“That’s not how prayer works, dear 

Her brow shrivels, growing in years as 

A sigh leaves my cracked lips and 

My grandfather sets his coffee mug down 

Next to an empty plate. 

He takes my hand in his and my grandmother’s 

In his and my grandmother’s in mine 

Before his head bows and the twitching he had all morning 


And our heads follow in procession. 

“Dear lord,” his begins, Ozark twang 

Clashing with a quiver in his voice I was 

Too young to yet understand, 

“May my granddaughter and her 

Grandmother be fruitful 

And faithful in all that they do, may 

You bless their days and nights to come and 

Mine too, Lord, as we do 

Everything in you. 

And God, bless us and 

Thank you for this last meal today, and 

May we all be worth of our meat, 

The meat that wraps our bones and grinds against our teeth, Lord, 

The meat of our hearts and the meat, 

Of Jesus Christ,  

the Lamb. 

God bless us, Lord, as we gather here tonight, 

Thank you and