Thursday Apr 18

Theriault Poetry Jeri Theriault’s latest chapbook, In the Museum of Surrender won the 2013 Encircle chapbook contest. Her full-length collection Radost, My Red was released in 2016 by Moon Pie Press. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Beloit Poetry Review, The Atlanta Review, Rhino, The Paterson Literary Review, The Café Review and The American Journal of Poetry. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a Fulbright recipient, she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her teaching career included six years as the English department chair at the International School of Prague.

the girl with [al]most useless hands

once upon a time          
raven-taught to caw
& rasp

I studied
wing-beat   not


gothic scuff
& courted lovely

I learned
what might be done

with smile &
nod.   gaze-grazed
my hawk

clawed his
bone nest  
he & I

a mismatch
beauty of lift & grab.
I married

young   [g]owned
[g]reedy & p[r]ettily


sometimes seeded [by birds]
in the high limbs
of host trees
ficus benjamina sends
tough roots  ground-ward  
eventually strangling
its host

grows fruit   favored
by orange-bellied doves
& purple-tailed imperial
pigeons   the figs  
wombs [syconia]
we buy

in global markets
we like the drooping
branchlets the glossy
oval leaves  
best-selling ornament

gleams in my living room
[genus fig family mulberry]
chic accent to my scant
décor stands near the table
where I sit fig-less
in crave-green

small sister to ninety-foot
Asiatic ficus   fecund
& fragrant
we take [always]
beauty where we can
& fit the space

On Returning to My Childhood Church for My Father’s Funeral

When I came here as a child, the congregation
filled the nave, all air above encased
by window stain & steeple. Miserere

mea culpa. We sheep bleated breath in woolens
flock well pressed, benevolent pastor
tending. French, Irish, Lebanese

we knelt, professed, confessed & rested
from toil at Sacred Heart Church
where my brother served as altar boy.

No such game for girls, only habit or house
in store. Dominus is Lord & Master.
Pastor bade my mother pray

& stay when she wanted her divorce
bade my sister offer up her husband’s
drinking. Thy will be done

O Lord & yet I loved the nuns. Vow
& wimple, amplitude of now & not.
Abstinence. Absence. Loved them

even as my flesh awoke & they invoked
Magdalene, a history I refused.
I haven’t been in any church to pray

in more than twenty years. but here’s
the vaulted ceiling, deep as I remember,
carpet worn & Mary’s stained glass

dress. Candles tiered in niches, iron latches,
arched doors, this place moves me still.
I believe in Eve & Aphrodite. Even

Magdalene & my cousin singing Ave Maria
for my dad, her human voice
beyond divinity, held near.