In memory’s eye, I imagine my grandmother,
lithe as a willow tree, swinging
the vacuum across a high pile
carpet, washing a dish in the sink
overlooking the suburban marsh
she never visited. Her life a stop sign
to pleasure, hand held up
to a subdued face, guarded.
Everywhere in the gray home
of sleek furniture and art
hung fiber sculptures she twisted—
dyed wool and slubbed linen—
though I never saw her hold
the soft roving in her hands. Who taught
me to love the body?
Not the church, vast
layers of vestments, cold metal
of the cross pole in my hands.
Not adults’ driving thought,
careful incision of the mind
from the self. Maybe
you were solitude—
long moments of letting go
into what surrounded
without scolding: dense rasp
of sand against the foot soles,
acrid crush of spent moss
between the toes. I never mistook
the body for something
safe or cherished
but there were places where it unfolded
like a hinged shell.
Meg Stout’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Cimarron Review, Guesthouse, North American Review, Zócalo Public Square, and the Portland Press Herald. A graduate of the MFA program at Warren Wilson College, she lives in Midcoast Maine.