Jitter Leg

Poetry by Andrew Wittstadt

We jitter when we are waiting for something. / And maybe giggle.

Jitter Leg

She used to do it in church
when she was waiting for the eucharist.
Her father’s glare kept her from
going too quickly with each separate
spring of the heel. The cracker signaled a close.
The end. The point at which they could go
to McDonalds and eat McMuffins.
The anticipation of an 8-year-old
caused annoyance among civilization.

We jitter when we are waiting for something.
And maybe giggle. And maybe hold our breath.
Like the body bracing for impact against glass,
she held and closed her eyes.
Two more songs before freedom.
And the rhythms she bounced her leg to
began to increase. Went faster.
The cracker means almost.

Her father’s hand came down firm,
covering her entire thigh with his palm.
She could feel the force of his arm as
he held the leg bounce at bay.  
Just eyes and the constant pressure
of finger tip turning white.
Matching her Sunday dress.
She said it wasn’t painful, but it meant
hold on. Just a little bit longer, dear.


Andrew Wittstadt was born and raised outside Baltimore, Maryland where he received his BA in English Writing from Towson University. He currently resides in Southwest Louisiana, where he is completing his MFA in poetry at McNeese State University.