Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This poem in progress was provoked by a writing prompt by Nancy Takacs at the Cliff Notes Writing Conference.


My right hand smells of basil
from sitting on my heels in the garden
picking flower heads from leafy shoots.
Someone told me to do this so the plant energy
could focus on growing more scented green leaves.
The smell is heavy on my fingertips.
I should be able to taste it
but there is only a flavor of dirt,
slightly salted and August sun.

My left hand smells like the dog
I have shooed through the garden gate twice.
She waits until my head bows,
my squat so close to the ground,
she thinks I am hers. She tastes my left hand
which must be warm whipping cream on her tongue.
My grandson wanders through this garden,
squatting his own few inches from the dirt
while he breaks pea shells to release round bb’s of green
to his tongue while his words circle peas.

My hands disappear into those of my grandmother,
her same age spots and wrinkles as they pushed deep
into raised white bread dough, heels of her hands
pressured into the table. Flour-dusted fingertips
glide across smooth loaves, like her hands
on my six year old calves as she helped me
pull on white cotton socks, folding back the lace edges
around my ankles. I reach out my hand to hers,
wanting my fingers protected inside the soft apricot of her fingers
so neither of us is afraid; her fearing my return
to a city she does not know, only a mother to protect me.
Me, afraid my father, her son, might not need me now.

I stand, the smell of basil everywhere in the garden now.
My grandson digs trenches next to pea plants.
I wave the hand that looks like my grandma’s at my grandson,
place her fingers on my lips and blow him a kiss.
Wait for him to come to the gate
where I will hold his hand deep in my palm
before releasing him to a city I chose to leave,
his mother finding the dad there to complete his family.


  1. Very nice poem, full of satisfying details that always mark your poetry writing, which you do too seldom in my opinion. Well, here's to whatever inspires you to write one.