“Bad Friday” by Kristina Erny

Kristina Erny


I put on my good
lipstick in preparation
to mourn,
and outside
three redbuds pink out
like Magdalenes
holding cherry margaritas,
each cup full
of blossom rimmed
with salt sun.
The Kid Bible
doesn’t show
any blood.
And when my daughter
asks about the crown
of thorns, I tell her
the truth
with whips, nails,
long drips of bright
I make her cry, thinking
about Baby Jesus
nailed at right angles,
pierced in the side,
the shape his baby
body made, dangling
“No,” I say, “he wasn’t a baby.
He’d grown up to do this.”
“But why’d they have to nail him,”
she says, “it would hurt.”
Her eyes grow glossy, her lips fall, pinch.
“Because they wanted to kill him like a criminal,
and this is how criminals were killed back then.”
“But it’s not fair,
he didn’t do anything wrong,
didn’t they know
that he was good?”
Her brows push together,
begin clenching
and unclenching their fists.
“I know, baby,
that’s the point.”
Feeling good, my head nods,
I’m doing good, she’s getting it.
“When’s Bad Friday,” she says.
After a pause,
the tree behind her
shakes, spills its cocktail
across the lawn.
Suddenly, she reaches out
and clasps my cheeks
with both her palms,
kisses me hard
on the mouth.
Then she rubs her index finger
slowly across her bottom lip,
looks down, smiling,
and she shows me,
it’s red.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


Kristina Erny: “I am a third-culture kid: i.e. a (white) American girl who was raised outside of America by parents who are also third-culture. This early displacement, and the displacement of my parents as young children, has informed and distorted my sense of identity in relationship to my ‘nation’ or ‘tribe,’ and our life as expatriates has given me a sense of alienness which informs all of my writing. These alien eyes and voices have gifted me a different way to inhabit and understand my experiences as a mother of young children, and also as another moving through time and space.” (web)

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