Jimmy, Jesus and the Japanese Beetles

By McBride, Mekeel | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Jimmy, Jesus and the Japanese Beetles


McBride, Mekeel, The Virginia Quarterly Review


The five kids, their parents, the grandmother

and Jesus sit down to dinner. Pink, dry flakes

of canned salmon lie on the plastic plates

like eczema. New burns, from the day's ironing

rise like small roses on the grandmother's wrists.

Because they have never seen Jesus eat, they've stopped

setting his place. he always wears the same outfit,

the one showing his heart all wrapped in barbed wire.

Jimmy, who has just turned eleven thinks it looks

like liver wrapped in bacon and says so.

His father slaps him across the face then sends him

out to the darkest part of the yard to say Hail Marys

and Our Fathers. Sometimes all he has to do is ask

for the bread. Or decorate his mashed potatoes with peas.

And he's smacked, shoved off into the dark,

to undergo penance, he's come to think, for hunger itself.

he doesn't mind the yard though. Tonight it's quiet.

Once in awhile a stray dog runs down the alley. …

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