Lottie Moon
Renee Emerson

Lottie Moon

          “We need to make friends before we can hope to make converts.”

And, it turns out, friends
like to eat. So, I divide
my portions by half
and by half, sending home
what I call “excess”
with the youngest first.

Everyone here is starving.
I become as small
as the children, weightless
and slow; they cling to me
still, though I give them
nothing, not even warmth.

I sign off my last dollar
to this mission.

Where are you, Baptist women?
Do you hold your purses
so close to your hearts?
I’m holding the bone and bloat
of an orphan next to mine,
with a mouth that can’t clasp shut.

Hand to hand, let’s pass this
empty plate. Let’s fill it.

Renee Emerson

is the author of Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016) and of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014), a finalist for the Jacar Press Julie Suk Award for Best Poetry Book Published by an Independent Press in 2014. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and daughters.