by Christine Butterworth-McDermott

for Audrey

When you have seen too much pain, love,
lie down in the field at night
though it is scorched and smoke ridden.

I may not be there or I may be right next
to you, but you do not need me
to be whole or unguarded.

Breathe in so much beauty, the air
itself opiate. Let the wind kiss
your cheek raw with love.

Once on such a night you whispered
a secret: our brain goes on, even
when we are sleeping, strange

comfort in childish murmur. Oh, my girl,
I give these words back to you
to remember when you think

your heart is breaking, When the world goes
up in flame—even as the ash settles
to scar the skin—we go on in wonder,

blink at the new leaf, the green wood
visible beneath the bark of the vine,
the regeneration, the rarer fruit.

So, tuck this knowledge into your
heart’s soil as talisman or prayer,
as bandage for burn.


CHRISTINE BUTTERWORTH-MCDERMOTT’s poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cimarron, LUNCH, The Normal School, River Styx, and Southeast Review, among others. She is the author of a chapbook, Tales on Tales: Sestinas (2010), and the full-length collection, Woods & Water, Wolves & Women (2012). Her second collection Evelyn As is forthcoming from Fomite Press. She is the founder and co-editor of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, https://gingerbreadhouselitmag.com


Featured Image: “Le repos” by William-Adolphe Bougereau