Leaves Like Prayer

This is what leaves like a prayer: 
the collard greens my father planted.

A collard is a cabbage that does not develop a heart.

Their green leaves are like hands 
about to clasp in solemn devotion, 
arching towards the sun for a blessing.

My father sleeps in his grave.

And the collard greens he planted 
keep growing in his autumn garden.
The frost sweetens them
and the time comes to reap what dead
hands have sown. My brother cuts 
the green hands from the earth’s body.
the green prayers do not leave the black earth.

But here we are. At the table with turkey
and stuffing. Clasping our hands over 
his greens drenched in hamhock juice. 

We eat prayers. 

This we do in remembrance of him.
Take. Eat. His love
grown for you and me.

Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Bartell Boykin. This poem appeared in The Raleigh Review: Literary & Arts Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2015Used with permission of the author.