My Mother’s hands

It was the last I remember
Of her, my mother’s hands

They were hands of a lady
Creamed and polished
Nails filed into the perfect shape
Skin soft but cold
Bones rigid
A blue tinge appearing in the dim light

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

They were strong hands
Rosie the Riveter hands
Scrubbing spark-plugs
For the boys overseas

Keen hands of the packinghouse,
Cutting meat, pushing fat
But not onto her plate

And patient hands
Swinging a jump rope
The other end tied to the stove handle
Me jumping in between

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

For potica
That made mouths water
In the town
Home to Polacks and Slavs
Russians and Germans

If there was a contest,
A prize for the best,
Annette would win
Hands down
Each holiday promised
Another perfect creation
Visitor after visitor
Hoping to arrive at
The exact moment
When the potica made its appearance

They were not weak hands
Fine lady hands lathered in creams
Sparkling with polish
They were hands that
Made sense of the world

The last time I saw
Her hands
In the cool dark room
Three of us around the gurney
Her long, slender fingers
Nails filed to perfection

Lovely hands
That once rolled dough

Author’s Note:

Today we had brunch at Wednesday Afternoon Writers.  Diane suggested we bring something for show-and-tell. Something old that someone wrote like a recipe or a letter.

Diane brought a lovely album that her grandmother made with a list of what ladies should do. Inside were carefully cut samples of cloth and pattern pictures and examples of sewing and handiwork. It was charming and took us back to times gone by. Diane wrote a modern-day list of what boys should expect if they wear their pants under their bums. Hopefully, she’ll post the two lists together.

Sheila told the story of when she was ten and found some hidden love letters between her parents. She needs to finish this story. It is an important story to be shared.

Niki brought a legal note her daughter Kathleen found in an old sewing chest. However, it was the note about the milk scribbled on the back of the envelope that gave Niki her story. She, too, needs to finish. It’s lovely.

Sandy isn’t leaving the classroom behind. She shared gifts from students and colleagues she’s gathered over the years. However, Sandy’s story was inspired by Sheila’s background and, just maybe, a little bit from Fiddler On The Roof. It was delightful.

The seed of my poem came from my mother’s four page, front and back, handwritten recipe of her famous potica. It was actually my father’s mother’s recipe, but my mom perfected it. We talked about how I never made it by myself with her when she was alive. Now dad helps me make it. One of the hardest things to do is to roll the dough thin enough without breaking it. And this led me to my poem.

If you would like to read the other pieces, please visit Wednesday Afternoon Writers Facebook page.



I had to do just one more poem for the contest.

As I was sitting at my commuter this morning with my window open to the bliss of little birds singing, the roar of the suburban summer machine drowned out my joy just as I was reading about jazz on Tweetspeak.

This tanka has nothing to do with jazz, but it speaks to obsessions.


Verdant soldiers fixed
at attention. August lawns
a suburban obsession.
Wildflowers whirligig
in delight, nature’s passion.


I am excited to begin reading The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry. Not because it only cost $2.99 at Amazon, but the story intrigues me. This book recently landed on O’s Summer Reading list. Tweekspeak Poetry Press is so proud to have their first novel honored, they are sponsoring a poetry and photography contest this week.

My second entry to the contest finds me exploring a love of mine – rocks. I have collected rocks since I was a young child scouring our gravel driveway. Polishing rocks, learning about their meanings, and making jewelry with them,  still finds me happily creating today.

My father handed me a dark gray stone
He said as he sifted through the gravel
Gray was all I saw
“Hold it to the sun”
As I turned the pointy rock in my hand
Rough against my skin
A glint, a sparkle caught my eye
A fine piece to polish-up
All shiny like the eight ball
From Grampa’s favorite game

He commanded
And as my palm faced the cloudless sky
Was all he said
No glimmer this time
But another surprise
Veins of reds and golds and greens
Would polish-up just fine, too

Walking back to the shop
Under the blazing heat
I studied the two
My reward for the day
Rocking the twins between my palms
My eyes up to his
“Um hm”

It will take a lot of time to smooth
The sharp and scratchy
I will be patient
Water cools and tumbling rounds
I will wait
With a little bit of grit and persistence
Each will emerge radiant
One pitch as the night sky
The other worthy of an Egyptian ruler’s crown
And yet, both


At Tweetspeak they have reason to celebrate. They published Deborah Henry’s The Whipping Club this past February and it made O Magazine’s  Summer Reading list. Tweetspeak is celebrating with a poetry and photo contest. Since I am recovering from surgery, I can’t imagine a nicer way to spend this week than playing with words.

Here in Colorado we are in the midst of the devastating High Park Fire. Along with it’s harshness, there has been stunning beauty. What looks like fluffy clouds rising into the sky are really plums of white smoke. As the sun sets and the fire rages, shades of orange tinge those so-called clouds. Nature in her cruelty doesn’t let us forget her loveliness.

He settled on the limb
Alongside the tightly petaled bud.

In the distance
A scrim
An orange glow
Seeping through
the billowing pother

His simple morning ovation
reminding me of the
sweetness of nature

To My Son

The Knife, Chapter 6, Page 16

Last week we celebrated our second Annual Party on the Deck for Wednesday Afternoon Writers. It’s fun to see that we are still together and writing with fervor. What started as an invitation to friends to join me to write once a month on their choice of any Wednesday afternoon, has turned into a group of lovely people who make it their goal to come every week. We write from a prompt, share and laugh. We even win contests! Niki Kessinger was the winner for her story of exactly 100 words at

At our party we ate and laughed and, of course, wrote. I was recently inspired by Wave Books and their Erasure poems. I visited the Gutenberg Project and chose a handful of classic texts. Each writer choose the title that interested them and went about writing an erasure poem.  See my blog post Great or Small for an explanation and my first erasure poem. Here is my poem taken from the text Paper Cutting Machine, The Knife, Chapter 6, page 16, the opening paragraph.

To My Son
Most important
be sharp,
be of proper temper.

Correctly pull the beard.
Study carefully.

No matter how imperfect,
in spite of rigorous temper,
character honing
and variations cause trouble.


Beyond the leaning trees there is a place
To lay my head on strains of angel songs.
No gentle strumming there. Fiery throngs
await the victor’s prize, His blazing grace.

Beyond the leaning trees I reach to brace
Myself from fluttering wings of black swans
Rising to the sky in rapture. Their psalms,
Once promising plumed escape, now erased.

Beyond the leaning trees of war I do
Not strive for safety, just sanctuary to
Harbor my soul. My salvation, His breath
Of life. An offering of morning dew
To quench the burning sins I once knew.
Beyond the leaning trees
but never beyond His breadth.




Author’s Note:
“Trees” is this month’s theme at Every Day Poems. Thursday’s challenge was to use “Beyond the leaning trees” as the opener, repeating phrase, or ending. I chose all three and mixed it with sort of a sonnet.