Dead Girls, Not Ours
by Christine Butterworth-McDermott

for Dayna

Dead girls on the news, dead girls in print, dead girls
on abandoned roads no one ever thinks to drive down,
haunting the periphery of our mothervision.

I want to believe if we shut our eyes tight, ours will
never be hurt or lain down or damaged. I want to imagine
we could always protect them. Eyes open, it’s all nightmare,

so hold my hand as we walk through the woods behind them,
squeeze it as their white nightgowns flutter out like flags.
Their blonde capes of hair will do little to shield them

from the wind and the fangs of strangers. Their soft skin’s
no help on this path lined with fur and gristle and bone.
The threads from their unwinding hems trail after them

and we grasp at the strands, feel them flit through our fingers.
We must trust that we have taught them to kick and scream
and to run, to stab the wolf in the heart when he comes out

from behind the trees. We must hope they’ve taken the gifts
from our baskets, all our prayers and tears. We must live in
tenuous hope that they’ll return alive as we watch them go.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 2.

Christine Butterworth-McDermott is an associate professor at Stephen F. Austin State University. Her chapbook, Tales on Tales: Sestinas, was published by Finishing Line (2010) and her first full length collection, Woods & Water, Wolves & Women (2012) is available through the Texas A & M Publishing Consortium.

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