Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Across the Atlantic by Annie HInkle

Annie Hinkle of Pleasant Ridge is a poet, memoirist, essayist and teacher whose poetry chapbook, Composition Studies came out last year. She offers this timely and timeless poem about immigration.

Across the Atlantic

— 1945 —
my mother
sailed to become an American woman
to wear white gloves and pearls,
to shop, work, and marry
in a city
on a river
promised to look like the Rhine,
a dream,
which never did
I could tell
from the look in her eyes
she gave
to the photos
she kept of people
boarding the boat,
ghosts
suspended on paper
floating
in her dresser drawer.

Despite this,
despite no mother to accompany her
and the eventual burn of my birth,
she gave me everything
she could

theatre, dance,
books, art,
ice skating in parks,
my piano,

and everything she couldn’t

cooking,
baking,
time in the kitchen.

Only dark mornings,
her head in her hands,
over a cold bowl,
while staring
into silence,
her sustenance.

I stock my own kitchen
with everything we did not have

nesting bowls,
measuring cups
and spoons,
peelers and graters,
ricers and sifters,
canisters,
bread pans,
muffin tins,
cookbooks,
fine china,
spices,
the seder plate,
crystal.

This Thanksgiving,
everyone can come,
my own children and theirs
returning to the table
I always set for them.
The cranberries
are in the oven
sugared under the foil.
Soon, they will reach
a red jewel stage,
and I will lift the silver,
add the brandy
to create the sudden popping
and waft of sweet
heat,
my head over the pan,
tart fruit
thick and dizzying
steam

a faint train
screaming
across a continent.

Annie Hinkle

Published in Blue Lyra Review

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Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. On April 15, 2016 she was named Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate. Pauletta is author of five poetry collections, Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

2 thoughts on “Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Across the Atlantic by Annie HInkle”

  1. Dear Ms. Hinkle,
    At 71 I must say that your poem may be the most beautiful piece I have ever read. I was absorbed by the imagery and bridges so smoothly offering us a portrait of love. There were no decadent or pretentious words to distract us. Just an honest portrayal of heart. Thank you so much for sharing.

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