Winter 2013 - THE POTOMAC

Two Poems

   Christine Butterworth-McDermott


There’s a note folded into a tiny square
in the back pocket
of my daughter’s jeans
I should have seen it coming—
she’s twelve and moony-eyed.
I Jesus. 
I think of the beautiful
Spanish boy in her play last fall 
I imagine her looking at him,
jostling her friends in the schoolyard
to catch a better glimpse
of his thick, dark hair. 
But then, underneath,
in her popular girl scrawl,
she’s added:
He is my savior, he is my friend.
The “i”s are all dotted with crosses. 
Jesus, she means Jesus.

I’m terrified.
For some reason I see
her washing the feet of a man
twice her age, no Cat Stevens
look-a-like, but a man with a beer gut
balancing a Bible in one hand
and his other hand is moving,
he is about to place
his stained palm on her
beautiful white forehead
he is about to push her down
to the floor
to be healed
to be exorcised
and I think no, not my child;
my little girl
should have no claim on her
blood or her body.
I take the note, put it
in my mouth as a wafer
swallow it whole.


La Tierra Prometida


Here, in midAmerica, every station on the dial leads 
to evangelizing or static. I could pull my eyelashes 
out and leave them on the dash, or keep gazing at 
all the things flickering past: the three-legged dalmation 
pissing in the yard, that broken-down rusted-out line 
of cars, the cracked wading pool, the hole in the fence, 
the cryptic billboard that makes no sense, the exploded 
cat on the highway's side, the mother screeching "brat!"
to her child in diapers, the 28-year-old waitress who says 
she's plumb out of luck, her Bobby's got some blonde 
knocked up, the river that oozes steam in the middle 
of December.  I squint at the faded paint of a restaurant 
long closed, deciphering a name. You pause and point 
out a cow, belly up in a field. Every crack and fissure
in this landscape is revealed as we barrel across it. 
My tension eases only when I see a dark woman
in a full skirt raise herself on tippy-toes and lift
a pinata shaped like Spiderman high into the air, bring
him back down to her smile, kiss him full on the mouth.

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