St. Theresa’s Apron by Rita Anderson

You are lazy. . .you talk about
offering sacrifice to the Lord.
Now go; get on with your work.
Exodus 6: 17-18

I confess. When I started watching you,
I could only massage the tightness
in my pants, repeating the jumprope jingle

I had heard you sing:
I see England, I see France
and I saw your underpants. Pink.

Probably your last year for the ruffled
backside. “I shall strike now the Nile’s
waters. The fish will die, the river stink

so’s none can drink.” I fear I’m already
too late, see your legs anxious to make you tall,
opening for other men, taking you away from me.

I’ll bet your knees ache like seedlings thirsty
for sunlight, impatient to break through the soil.
The beautiful music your knees must make

rubbing against the mattress for relief!
I have prepared a place. Just now, when you bent
into your knapsack for the red and white

peppermints, I dug a thumbtack into my palm.
Measuring my breathing, I watched you suck
through four mints, made it fifteen

minutes before I. . . I am getting stronger
for you. You are Mary. I am your not-
so-little lamb who has your candy

wrapper taped to his sun visor like churches
have saints’ bones buried in their altars.
And, I have! I have followed your bus home.

I’ve seen the grey shutters always open,
memorized the spotted cows that graze
on your bedroom curtains, next to

startled sheep, red hearts. I know
the winter sky’s blanket blighted
with stars that watch you, as I must,

from a distant post. Last night, while
the moon also slept, I stepped under the dark
awning of the maple tree and softly

touched your window, sure, if you
noticed at all, you would assume it
the lovestruck bough that taps

there when the wind is right.
Dream child, your God is a rainbow-
colored sucker, a good night’s rest.

I will adopt you as my people, and
I will be your God. Accepting the ride
I’ve offered, you gather your books.

“And Zipporah picked up a sharp flint,
cut off her son’s foreskin and touching
him with it said, ‘You are my blood-bride-

groom.’” I open the door of heaven and wave
you in. As you stand, wrappers cascade from
your lap like roses from St. Theresa’s apron.

Rita Anderson, a member of International Centre for Women Playwrights, Dramatists Guild, and ScriptWorks, has an MFA Poetry and an MA Playwriting. A nationally-recognized and award-winning playwright and poet, Rita has had numerous publications and her plays have been produced internationally. Rita was also poetry editor of Ellipsis (annual literary publication, University of New Orleans), and she’s won the Houston Poetry Festival, the Gerreighty Prize, the Robert F. Gibbons Poetry Award, the Cheyney Award, and an award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, EVENT Magazine (British Columbia), The Blueshift Journal, Blotterature, Words Work, Transcendence, PHIction, Persona (50th Anniversary Edition), The Artful Mind, Ellipsis, Di-Verse-City: An Austin Poetry Anthology, Inflight Magazine (Paper Plane Pilots Publishing), and Explorations (University of Alaska Press). Contact Rita at


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