On Dread
Sara Moore Wagner

On Dread

This morning I can’t change anything
into anything, and I see it in my daughter
who holds a drawing of a butterfly
between her little hands and yells
miracle at it over and over—

My first experience with nothing
was the same. In high school I’d pick
herbs from my mother’s garden, basil
and oregano, mint for her tea, boil
them down into a paste I’d hide under
my pillow, potion to call in the devil.

When the butterfly isn’t real, my daughter
is convinced there is no magic in the whole world.

When the devil never came for me,
I still said Jesus, guard my soul, spoke
his name over and over, just
in case it mattered to someone, in case
I could’ve been that someone you read
about on the news, the girl who asked
God for something so hard
with her hands he came

to her in the night, festooned in white,
said the pain of this earth is not yours.

Sara Moore Wagner

lives in West Chester, Ohio, with her husband and three small children. She is a recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award and is the author of the chapbooks Tumbling After (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2021) and Hooked Through (2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, including Cimarron, Third Coast, Poet Lore, Waxwing, The Cincinnati Review, and Nimrod, among others.