By Hallie Wright
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
And you are somewhere in it
And it will never end until all ends.
I cannot recall my fixation of white and when it began.
The walls and dishes—you and the annabella hydrangeas,
how it contrasted everything.
Pure, porcelain hair
bleached by time and sun combined,
it is you—it is your
in the front yard against the greens.
When It was only dirt,
we couldn’t yet imagine the piquancy—
The chipped red deck, a hand built summit
is our foundation, the hands of your love(r).
We soak our mixed skin in the heat, aware
it will never compare to your sun-spot hands.
The trees surrounding become the rain dancers,
we watch them, praiseworthy
awaiting The Season of Séance.
Verdure from tending the dirt is your only
job, but so much more—
you are the seed of our roots.
I walk past the cracking hills, parched
plant half dead, crying over the edges.
Anticipate gathering, the soil
filling beneath the nails.
something left behind could re-emerge
unpretentious in its power, quiet of itself—
overpowering those who dig for its riches;
red and gold, root of roots.
I walked past the breaking hills alongside you.
The grass was matted down the trail and you tell me
about the deer—a family of two doe, one fawn
they won’t stay out of the fields.
Serotinal crops speed up the season.
There won’t be much more of this you say…
we’ll take what we can get, pointing to the tomatoes,
In the rows forged of the land, it is written.
If a row, mounds, if a print, stays
If a stem, pouts.
If a stalk, decays.
When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know any of us, what happens then.
Thumb wrapped around the base of a paring blade,
I slice the verdant skin as you soak and peel the red.
In attempt to fathom the lineage, I wonder at the land—
everywhere, the surface has begun to wither.
They are catching up to us Grandma, I think to myself.
You continue, skinning and chopping tomatoes
as we talk about life and death and routine, its culprit.
Today feels like an ending I’ve never endured—
we discuss the work of next season and you shake your
head in burden of losing a set of hands,
hands which guided you until now.
My eyes catch the fir grove that grandpa planted long ago—
much like our affinity, it withstands all.
I told myself I would not discuss sadness in these poems.
But I suppose if happiness is sadness
then it’s all quite sad, isn’t it?
I’m not sure you will understand.
The mind, its deciduous nature
allows the heart to go numb
from time to time.
There are days when
my thoughts are wrapped around the future
and I forget I am living it—
right here, with you
on the rustic-red, wood summit,
admiring the Rain Dancers, watching
the season fade in days of short time
with you, Grandma—
you make these days a future of remembrance.
When I come down the stretched, paved drive
sun behind the trees, you behind the crops,
nothing of my summer is as routine.
The wooden sign at the road reminds us
grandpa’s will to stay put. Dry days of
scorching September sun couldn’t detain
rolling down and back, the drive stretches
from road to barn, field in sight—
you, mazing through the still green stalks.
The wheels on grandpa’s walker must compare
to your new mower: down and back,
down and back…
I’m going down to grab more corn,
have you driven the mower before, Hal?
We collect, arms of gold in exchange for paper,
trading indigenous nature—what is left of
There are days I choose not to visit—
when the dusty land becomes overwhelming,
your birthday is approaching. Not even
this world, this ethereal terrane that which no longer belongs
built within and around your universe,
is inaccessible by impending change—the churning of time.
When the sliding glass door, perpetually sealed
shuts out the year of which we have made it through another.
Boxelders fly among dust and white, clinging to the broad window
that consumes the bleached wall: it frames the picture of your
dying summer. The image morphs by day
never the same—a year from now the shriveled
stalks will bow in a different place.
Much, seemingly remains amidst the white
cupboards, white specked marble
the tablecloth from time to time,
soon the puzzles, and
I watch through glass as wind
and clouds carry the day—tractor
carving rows in what’s left of your shoe prints.
Dust churning, surfacing richness from beneath
as though nothing had ever grown
Uncle Sam, is he tilling the dirt?
Yes, did you see? Doesn’t it look pretty?
There are no leavings of withering green.
The crying sunflowers have been
torn of their misery, and you—
you have begun to clean the windows.
You take my hand in yours,
delicate skin, relaxed yet firm in its grip
squeeze twice and let go—
becoming this way when we are all together.
Your face doesn’t need to face
mine, as though you are passing this love,
this life to me that you have built among
the white, all of us children, grandchildren—
I am your passer and carrier…the youngest of this tree
that has halted in height yet expands outward by day
in branches of will and devotion to our line
which sprouts through infant pines;
those who will never know the hands that
harvested growth and wisdom, the softness,
or peachy love transferred through grip and understanding.
When it all didn’t hurt so much, we would have time
to sink into the doughy couch with raspberry pillows
lulling as your hug, patting softly
hand on my back: it’ll work out, you’ll see.
Nothing is as knowing as your belief, your love in
soft-tonal stories; everything you have endured and lost
in life—a list that only grows—as the sun arrives to leave
it spots our skin; a withering reminder that we
are never-lasting forms in this world—here to rise
and set as the sun—as the stalks sprout and wither down
every season, we will tend again
in some months, and do it over—
When my feet, exposed, brush the carpet,
I am reminded that we build homes to accent
ourselves, the hearth—you and the carpet
that fill these rooms of rest and calm.
Though the white,
porcelain tile, is all I need.
I could lie down in the middle of that kitchen,
where feet of summer have printed reminders—
just as summer does, this home unburdens those
who surrender to slow time, appreciating the accent
My favorite you is denim shorts and a white cotton T,
Accent of green rubber gloves—just leaving
dirt and bees, their presence nourishes you as you do theirs.
I’m not sure you will ever be aware
of your company and
how it only enriches—
I will always visit,
to the place where sometimes, sometimes not,
such things can be mended.
When the hardened dirt has lost its purpose
We touch the cupboards more, playing
with spices and circling the white. I fold and
mix as you cut butter with flour and sugar—
thrilled by combination. Home heated by
oven and stove, the sun has already gone
and these acts feel mischievous:
in the kitchen with grandma,
I cannot recall silence, ever in the white—
Hallie Wright is a graphic designer working in the metro Detroit area. Her writing began at Saginaw Valley State University where she earned her bachelor’s in design and associate’s in creative writing. She continues to write as a leisure pursuit, in which she focuses on poetry in the long form.