April 6, 2021

I Offer You This Counter Curse, By Christine Butterworth-McDermott

Editor’s note: This poem’s mystery and imagery grabbed my attention and kept it. There’s so much to think about, and the poem keeps you in the land of enchantment long after you finish reading it.


Beautiful boy, with the limpid eyes, you blink:

Shh, I have a secret I cannot tell—how the witch 

cast a spell, put shards of mirror into my tongue. 

I can’t tell you how she did it to me. What it meant. 

Now, I am afraid my words would drop like toads, 

slither like snakes to the ground. I can’t open my mouth 

without filth spilling out.  The story hangs, knifesharp, 

your voice so low it barely registers. A growling animal, 

you jerk your head to look me eye to troubled eye. 

Beautiful boy, let me cradle you here near my heart. 

You are so young you cannot know I hold vats 

of watery whispers. I will not drown. I will not tell. 

Just speak here, in the bud of my ear. Tell me how—

I hid all my treasure, jewels sharp and pointed, I hid them

Let your lips move, push those diamonds through the wounds. 

Let sparkling shards tumble from your mouth—the truth, 

child, is as soft as tinsel. Let me gather it in my hands.


BIO: Christine Butterworth-McDermott is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Tales on Tales: Sestinas (2010) and All Breathing Heartbreak (2019) as well as the full-length collections, Woods & Water, Wolves & Women (2012) and Evelyn As (2019). Her poetry and fiction has been published in such journals as Alaska Quarterly Review, The Massachusetts Review, and River Styx, among others. She is the founder and co-editor of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, an online magazine of speculative poetry and flash fiction, established in 2013. Learn more about her and see her gorgeous artwork here.

Altered image from Pixabay.


Anonymous said...

What a stunning piece of writing. So beautiful, so haunting.

Alison said...

So evocative. This is lovely and devastating, devastated.

Anonymous said...

This was so gorgeous. The imagery and how it pulled you in was beautifully done.