Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. She resides in Graham, NC with her cats, Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.
you find your youngest daughter
now your only daughter
swinging her sister’s rosary
back and forth back and forth
upending jesus like a carnival ride
the ones that made you sick
made you watch from behind little metal gates
as your children and everyone’s children raised their hands and screamed.
you snatch the crucifix mid-swing,
beads popping from between your youngest daughter’s fingers
your only daughter’s fingers
clutch it to your mouth, lips against the centerpiece of mary
breathing in and out in and out
eyes closed, squeezing so the whole scene is a negative in red and orange
as you lower your hand, opening it in time with your eyes
and find the imprint of christ on your palm
(the priest said with enough praying it would turn gold).
your youngest daughter is looking at you now
your only daughter is looking at you now,
eyes so wide and sad you want to erase the whole world
and build it bit by bit into perfection until she is satisfied
but you only say, ‘I don’t want people to touch it,’
as words form in your mind
too many hands might fade her fingerprints away
then how could we be sure she ever existed at all?
but the words stay thoughts as you repeat again
‘I don’t want people to touch it’
stuffing the silver jesus into the pocket of your jeans so his bloodied feet show.
your daughter folds her hands under her heart
looking at your receding back the way saints looked up at God
praying to be more than people
you walk clear to the end of the world
when you look back at your footfalls
god is not there, too.