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E. D. Watson

Jeff You were my parents’ friend, you wanted to have sex with me, you told me so the day you found me in the library, alone. You admitted watching from my parents’ couch during Bible study, the Good Book covering your lap, spurting scripture. Your wife was pregnant, some trouble with the baby meant she had to lie still; she wouldn’t put out. That’s what you told me. You asked if I would meet you after school, and because I hadn’t been brought up to say no I said maybe and meant jesus what do I do. I told my mom she told my dad he told the pastor who called me into his office and asked if it were true and if I sometimes wanted to kill myself, if I sometimes wanted to drive into oncoming traffic and I said sometimes, lately. And he said to my parents, behold a teenage girl who wants attention, I’ve seen her on stage spouting Shakespeare, singing. You know how it is at her age. And what he meant was our friend Jeff is a judge’s only son, a man with funds and a baby on the way. I’d worn a miniskirt that day. They made me apologize but what I meant was you are the one who’s sorry. The Bible said watch out for seductresses in doorways. But no one warned me about men like our pastor, men like you.


Prayer Against Forest Fires for two long years the trees have burned, like monks gentle ones who prayed for us sang om into the breeze now engulfed by flame— o god of withholding, god of rain open your hands. Behold your beautiful ones bones exposed, going black in a coat of fire— prayer’s not our thing words drop from our lips like burnt birds and we’ve no business asking but I am asking anyway hands folded like pine lifted like birch god it hurts to look at them in wordless supplication at the hem of hell.


Prayer for Thich Quang Duc

To walk into a busy intersection

as though entering the temple garden.

To sit among dust and flies and fumes

as though resting beside a still pond.

To arrange your robes and breathe

as though drawing up from a well

deep within you. Your reflection shatters

when the bucket falls

but your source is clear

and cold with resolution

to feel the gas splash down like rain

to light a match and become a tree

of flame.


E. D. Watson (she/they) is a poet and library clerk based in San Marcos, Texas. Her work was awarded the 2021 Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry, and has been published recently or is forthcoming in Rattle, Pensive, and The Healing Muse. They earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University, and are a candidate for certification with the Institute for Poetic Medicine.


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