Poems & Essays

21 Dec

Make a Well With Your Hand

General/Column One Response

Her calendar no longer measures time
the way it used to—it is the one handhold
she has—an anchor to her days running

one into another and back again.
Circular. Repeating.
How many cups of flour are in one day?

Her hand cannot hold a cup of words
or add them to the mix—bingo games,
coffee cups, running down

to the river, to Neosho’s mud banks,
sliding down into the water
near the cabins where folks lived

kept to themselves; she watched out
for water moccasins and copperheads
every summer from 1935

to the day she started high school,
wore dresses she had sewn
from feed sacks with printed patterns—

nothing wasted.

She holds the calendar, unsteady
in her hands as she wonders
how many teaspoons of honey

make a cup. She has forgotten how
to hold onto words that commingle
and float through the air

as if they were lost in the attempt
to find their way to cohesion,
comprehension, utility.

She makes a well with her hand.
If you make a well with your hand,
it will hold a scant cup of flour;
sugar runs through fingers like a sieve

just as letters glide toward her eyes
without recognition. She remembers
the pecan trees, their sound of heaviness,

how the pecans fell hard to the ground
where she picked up bushels
for cracking, cleaning, separating;

for baking pies or eating over oaken
tables, picking the nutmeats clean,
drinking hot tea from jelly glasses.

Her mother killed black snakes—
long and coiled—near the chicken coop—
they lay in wait for mealtime

when she would broadcast handfuls
of feed over the ground, reaching
into the well of her apron
that held grain enough for her laying hens.

The paper rattles in her hand—
she circles meaning with her eyes—
she knows it holds something important.


Anne Graue is a poet living in New York state. She has studied poetry at the Hudson Valley Writers Center and Columbia University. Her work has been published in The Westchester Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, The New Verse News, The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly, and American Tanka. She has also written reviews of literary magazines for NewPages.com. Her chapbook, The Spectrum Glows Brilliant, was a finalist at Anchor and Plume press, 2015, and she was a finalist in the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award for 2013.

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1 Comment

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  1. Elizabeth

    December 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Absolutely lovely.


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