Praying Mantis

By Jehan Segal

When we moved into our new house, my father found a gun in the basement and a poster of the crucifixion by Salvador Dali in the fireplace. My father didn't have a gun license. We were not religious. The rifle had been sleeping in a panel in the wall, dust-coated and surrounded by bullets. I saw a pig surrounded by tiny piglets. I saw the pig being shot through the forehead. I saw Jesus and his bleeding palms staring down at me. I wondered if my father had had a gun license in Iraq. I wondered if he had ever shot someone through their forehead. I wondered if he had ever stared down a gun. I lifted the rifle so its barrel pressed into my forehead and pretended Jesus's bloody palms were pushing the gun to my skin. My father found me like that. I was on my knees. It was the closest I had ever been to prayer.


Jehan Segal is a senior creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy. They were raised in the Netherlands but now live in Traverse City, Michigan. They have been published in the Red Wheelbarrow and will be published in the upcoming Albion Review. They are the recipient of two Silver Keys and two honorary mentions from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and placed second in Albion College’s Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest. You can often find them surrounded by cut-up magazines and glue sticks making collage art for their journals. In the fall, they will be attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon.