Her Hands – National Poetry Month – April 4th

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. Today’s poem: # 4 for April 4th.

Her Hands

I close my eyes
I’m back in her house
In Richland, Mississippi
Sitting at the kitchen table
Surrounded by delicious smells
With a plate full of home grown food
And a large mason jar of unsweetened iced tea

I remember my mammaw’s hands
Slender, with long bony fingers
Hands that had worked hard

In second grade her mom died
She had to leave school
To be a sharecropper with her dad

This amazing woman knew how
To grow food, have an abundant garden
Always two freezers full of frozen vegetables
And a shed full of fresh canned foods

She used her thumb and index finger
To indicate measurements for baking
I remember asking
What does that mean?
A tablespoon, a 1/2 cup?
She wasn’t sure
She only knew the measurement
Of thumb to index finger

My mammaw was a spit fire of a lady
She spoke her mind
She loved her grand kids
Making sure we were fed and full
Was her guiding light

I admire her
I remember how she lay her left hand across her chest
When sitting at the kitchen table
Talking with me, studying me with
Adoring eyes through her glasses
Thinking about it now
I can see the curiosity,
The tenacity,
The strength behind those eyes

The stories she would tell me
That time I went for a visit
long after I became an adult and moved away
I treasure that week long visit
Talking, learning her history,
Listening, soaking her into my heart and mind

I remember the story she told
Of hitting my grandad upside the head
With a mason jar full of tea
When he told her he was leaving her
For another woman

I guess he got hit so hard he forgot
About the other woman
Perhaps he changed his mind

The memories that flood me
At the sight of a mason jar
Fried green tomatoes
Tomato (“mater”) gravy
Collard greens
Black-eyed peas
Butter beans
The sight of honeysuckle vines
Blackberry bushes
Screen doors
Mud and good spoons

I hear her saying,
“Youngins, shut that door, you gone let flies inside.
Camiller, ah Camiller, don’t be using my good spoons in that mud.”

She was a strong ass woman
Elnor Key Downs
Born in 1919 in Louisiana, Died in 2001 in Mississippi
You, your essence continue to be felt and remembered
by your granddaughter who misses you and your hands.
Camilla Downs 2024

**Prompt: Book title as poem title. I colored outside the lines by changing the book title I liked. Ha!**


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